The New York Times: New York, Combating Worker Abuse, Mandates Salon Owners to Secure Wage Bonds

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The New York Times:

by Ileana Najarro

For nearly six years, Silvia Gonzalez opened the doors of Romy’s Nails in Brooklyn at about 8:45 a.m. and left more than 12 hours later, six days a week. She performed manicures and pedicures with no lunch break, making $55 a day, or about $4.50 an hour. After Ms. Gonzalez had worked there four years, her pay increased to $80 a day, which was still below minimum wage. She recalled hearing her employer often proclaim to workers, many of whom were working illegally in the country, that no one could win against him in court.

Ms. Gonzalez proved him wrong. Sort of.

Last week a judge in Federal District Court in Brooklyn awarded Ms. Gonzalez, 49, and her daughter Martha Mendoza Gonzalez, 30, who also worked at the salon, more than $200,000 in wages owed and other damages. But their lawyer has said collecting that amount from the defendant in the case, Romelia Agudo, will probably be difficult.

To help ensure that future nail salon workers who win judgments against their employers in wage theft cases are paid, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, will put into effect a new rule on Monday. All nail salon owners will be required to secure wage bonds by Oct. 6, or face fines and other penalties, including the possible closing of their businesses. Salon owners would be able to use the bonds to pay legal judgments against them in wage-theft cases.

“Requiring owners to secure a wage bond will help ensure workers are paid what they are legally owed and that businesses have the funds they need to meet their financial obligations,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

Read the full article from The New York Times.