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Post date: March 22 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreements With Queens Hair And Nail Salons To Compensate Employees For Labor Law Violations

Hair Salon Owner To Pay $40,000 To Eight Hairstylists And Barbers; Nail Salon To Pay Over $5,000 To Manicurist

A.G. Schneiderman: All Employers Must Respect Workers’ Rights

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced agreements with two Queens salons that ripped off workers by violating New York labor laws.Tatyana Enterprises, Inc., in Jackson Heights, will pay $40,000 to eight employees who were fired after they refused to sign bogus and back-dated agreements misstating the terms of their employment. Bliss Nail Salon, in Sunnyside, will pay more than $5,000 to a manicurist who was told that she would have to pay a deposit to work there and that, because she was a “trainee,” she was not entitled to minimum wage and overtime.

“All New York businessesmust pay legally-required wages to employees and respect their workers’ basic rights," Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The state grants a license to salon owners in order for them to operate and they, like all business owners, must take the appropriate steps to follow our state's labor laws."

The settlement with Tatyana Enterprises and its owner, Tatyana Muratov, is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's Office on February 27 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Queens County, alleging violations of numerous labor laws.The settlement comes as the Attorney General’s Office obtained a judicial order freezing any proceeds from a planned sale of the business. The $40,000 settlement represents the $30,000 sale price of the salon, plus an additional $10,000.

Under New York Labor Law, employers must pay at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, plus overtime for hours past forty at 1 ½ times the employee's regular rate of pay.The law strictly prohibits retaliation against employees who have complained about violations to the employer or reported violations to the government.

After a worker was injured on the job in July 2011,the company demanded that their employees sign bogus, back-dated contracts stating that they were not regular employees but were independent contractors who rented chairs in the salon. The company fired employees for refusing to sign the contracts. The fraudulent independent contractor agreements also sought to prevent employees from performing similar work within a 15-mile radius.In addition, Tatyana Enterprises failed to pay overtime to employees.

Bliss Nail Salon’s manicurist, a Nepali immigrant who spoke limited English, was required to work as a “trainee” for three months, from March through May of 2012, during which time she was initially given only small amounts of money for food and then, about half way through her three months at the salon, paid $30 for what was often a 10-hour work day.

The Tatyana Enterprises case was referred to the Attorney General's Office by the advocacy group Make the Road New York. The Bliss Nail Salon case was referred to the Attorney General's Office by Adhikaar, a community-based organization serving New York's Nepali-speaking community.

Adhikaar co-founder and Executive Director Luna Ranjit said,"We thank the Attorney General for recognizing that enforcing minimum wage laws is very important for low-wage workers, including those who work long hours in salons across the state, and for working hard to achieve justice in this case."

Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “We applaud Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for continuing to aggressively enforce the labor laws. In New York State, low-wage workers fall victim to wage theft in considerable proportions; our government has a duty to protect this segment of our workforce whose hard labor makes a significant contribution to our economy.”

The Tatyana case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Holt and the Bliss Nail Salon case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Haeya Yim. The cases were supervised by Labor Bureau Section Chief Andrew Elmore, Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein and First Deputy of Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.

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