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Cuomo Orders Emergency Crack Down On Abusive Nail Salons

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unleashed an emergency government task force on the state’s nail salons Monday after a New York Times investigation published last week revealed many of the state’s manicurists are not paid fairly and face major health hazards.

Cuomo’s task force will conduct a salon-by-salon investigation to ensure they are following emergency policy changes effected Monday, and will shut down those that refuse to pay workers back wages or that are unlicensed, reported The New York Times.

Effective immediately, salons must publicly post signs informing workers of their rights, require manicurists to wear gloves and masks for protection against the chemicals they work with, ensure the workspace is ventilated, and contract with a bonding agency to ensure they’re able to pay back wages when necessary.

Many of the exploited workers are illegal immigrants who are afraid to speak up, so the task force is also launching an education campaign to make illegal immigrants aware they have a right to full compensation regardless of their legal status, and to encourage them to report abuse. The task force will not ask salons about the legal status of their workers.

It’s common for salons to charge new workers $100 for a job, then institute a probationary period where the worker subsists on tips alone, before settling on what is often an illegally low wage or no wage at all, the Times investigation found. In addition, the constant exposure to some of the chemicals used in nail salons has been linked to cancer, miscarriages, lung diseases and other ailments.

New York will conduct its own investigation into the potential health hazards and update the rules accordingly.

State workers began forming a plan almost immediately after the first investigation was published Thursday. Cuomo decided to take emergency steps rather than go through the usual “time-consuming” process of updating policies, which requires steps such as public comment, Cuomo’s counselor, Alphonso David, told the Times.

“We cannot wait to address the problem,” he said.

Cuomo’s decisive action against abusive nail salon’s is a chance for positive press following two embarrassing corruption charges in the state legislature. The State majority leader, Dean Skelos, is facing criminal charges just months after the Assembly leader, Sheldon Silver, was arrested and ousted from office.

More than two dozen members of the state legislature have been indicted or resigned in disgrace in the past five years. (RELATED: Sheldon Silver’s New York Courts Under Federal Investigation)

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