According to a recent investigation by the New York Times, nail salon workers are some of the most overworked, mistreated, and underpaid workers in New York. In addition, many of them face serious health risks due to the fumes and chemicals to which they are subjected on a daily basis.

Most of the nail salon workers interviewed during the Times investigation were immigrants from Korea or China, and occasionally Latin America, Nepal or Tibet. The Times found that some of these workers were earning a wage as little as $10 per day. $35 is considered to be very good pay by those working in the nail salon industry. In many cases, their employers even keep their tips, and offer no overtime pay. In addition to the deplorable employment working conditions employees face, many of the workers are forced to go home to over crowded and unsanitary living arrangements.

Due to the salons not being properly ventilated, many of these workers face medical ailments such as respiratory and skin issues, nose bleeds, head aches, and sore throats, in addition to the physical pain that comes from being hunched over all day, and sore hands resulting from massaging other people’s hands and scrubbing calluses from feet for hours on end. In many cases, women are not given gloves to protect their hands or proper masks to protect from inhalation. Chemicals in products used for manicures include dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Nail products are not regulated by the FDA and therefore, the long term health effects have not been studied by exposure to these products. Tragically, in the nail salon industry, miscarriages and birth defects are all too common among women of child bearing years as a result of being over-exposed to these toxins.

As a result of the New York Times expose, Governor Cuomo issued an emergency order to protect nail salon workers until more permanent measures can be in place. Such measures include increasing safety measures requiring protective gloves; ordering back pay for lost wages; and an educational campaign that would distribute materials in six languages about the rights, health, and safety of nail salon workers.

If you are a manicurist, or work in the cosmetics industry and have developed an illness as a result of your employment, you may be able to assert a Worker’s Compensation claim. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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