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Connecticut DOL investigation reveals that 92 percent of nail salons engage in wage theft

A May 7 New York Times expose last spring shed light on activities of rampant wage theft within the U.S. nail salon industry. Almost exclusively, the workers who are exploited are immigrants from Asian countries who speak little to no English and have little to no understanding about U.S. labor laws, especially those pertaining to wages.

Disturbing allegations of wage theft reported on by the New York Times, which included mention of one classified ad that promised nail technicians pay of $10 per day, prompted investigators from Connecticut's Department of Labor's wage and workplace standards division to make surprise visits to 25 nail salons throughout the state.

Upon questioning both nail workers and salon owners about pay and compensation, Connecticut DOL investigators discovered that 92 percent of the salons were in violation of wage and hour laws. While the state's hourly minimum wage is currently $9.15, some workers reported earning as little as $4 per hour. Additionally, many salon owners, who contend they are confused about U.S. labor laws; failed to keep payroll records, pay workers' compensation benefits and overtime wages.

Currently, as a direct result of the DOL investigators' findings, more than $47,000 has been recovered in back wages for nail salon employees and more than $100,000 in fines have been issued against salon owners.

Wage and hour violations can take many forms and may include minimum wage and overtime violations, misclassification of employees and being forced to work off the clock. Employers or employees, who have concerns about possible acts of wage theft, should contact an attorney for guidance and representation.

Source: The Connecticut Mirror, "Nail salons are ubiquitous, and so are labor violations," Mark Pazniokas, Aug. 17, 2015

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