New York City wage and hour pay violations happen to employees in the personal service industry daily. The personal service industry includes businesses that provide laundry services, hair salons, car wash workers, nail salon technicians, aestheticians, dog groomers, and more. In 2018, the New York City personal service industry grew by 20 percent for a total of 193,100 workers in the industry. Yet, many personal service employees continue to experience wage and hour pay violations. Professional service industry workers can quickly become victims of wage exploitation by their employers.

Many personal service industry workers do not realize that their employer is unlawfully depriving them of part of their paychecks every month. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we’ve helped some clients recover thousands of dollars of back pay from employers who have committed wage theft. Federal, New York State, and New York City laws prohibit personal service industry employers from committing wage violations. If you know or suspect that your employer has engaged in unlawful wage and hour practices, our law firm can help. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our lawyers know how to fight hard for our clients’ right to fair compensation. Contact our New York City employment law firm today to learn how we can help you fight to recover the wages to which you’re entitled.

Misclassification of Professional Service Workers as Independent Contractors

New York City personal service workers are often victims of wage and hour abuses by their employers. Hair stylists, massage therapists, and nail technicians are some of the most easily abused workers in the personal services industry. Very few hair stylists working in hair salons are direct employees. Most business owners hire hair stylists as independent contractors.

One of the problems with the independent contractor classification is that stylists do not benefit from some of the legal protections available by law to regular employees. Independent contractors do not enjoy legal protection from discrimination in the same way that regular employees are protected.

Hair salon owners prefer to hire independent contractors as stylists because the Fair Labor Standards Act does not protect independent contractors. Thus, business owners do not need to meet the same stringent employment standards when they classify their hair stylists as independent contractors. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to meet specific standards in the following areas:

  • Overtime pay
  • Social Security contributions
  • Medicare
  • Unemployment insurance
  • The minimum wage

Many salons have wrongly classified their hair stylists as independent contractors for the salon’s benefit. The following hair salon policies indicate that the hairstylists should be an employee, not an independent contractor:

  • Control the working hours of their stylists
  • Require strict billing policies
  • Regulate which products the stylists use and sell

If you work at a hair salon, nail salon, or in any other personal services business, your employer may have wrongly classified you as an independent contractor. Contact the experienced wage and hour lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP to discuss your case. Your employer may have a legal duty to classify you as an employee and give you all of the legal benefits and rights that come with being an employee.

Wage and Hour Abuses for New York City Hair Salon Employees

Minimum wage violations are common among New York City hairdressers, aestheticians, nail technicians, and other personal service workers. Currently, many employers are not required to pay personal service workers the minimum wage. Theoretically, personal service workers make the minimum wage because they receive tips that make up the difference between the minimum wage amount and their hourly pay amount. However, many employers unlawfully fail to cover the gap when workers do not make enough in tips to meet the minimum wage.

The New York Department of Labor recently investigated wage and hour abuses for personal service workers. The investigation revealed that wage theft is a frequent occurrence in the personal service industry. Many personal service industry employees are immigrants who find it challenging to understand minimum wage laws. Employers often exploit the confusing minimum wage system to engage in wage theft.

At the end of December, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo sent an order to the Department of Labor regarding minimum wage. The new regulation extends the state’s minimum wage protections to personal service workers in the state of New York. Since its enactment in December 2020, the regulation ensures that employers pay the minimum wage to approximately 70,000 employees with the following jobs:

  • Hairdresser
  • Nail salon technician
  • Dog groomers
  • Tour guides
  • Aestheticians

Wage Abuses for Professional Service Industry Employees

Hair stylists, nail technicians, and other personal service workers who are hired as employees frequently suffer wage abuses. The fortunate few workers who are employees on the payroll should enjoy greater legal protections as employees but often don’t. Hair salons have been known to deduct fees from a hair stylist’s earnings for products the stylists use. Sometimes hair salon owners deduct money from stylists every time a customer comes through the door. Some hair salons deduct as much as 25 percent to 50 percent of a salon employee’s earnings without the authorization of the stylist.

Additionally, when clients come into hair salons demanding a refund, many owners will unlawfully take the refunded money straight from their employee’s paycheck. In many New York City hair and nail salons, payrolled employees do not receive an hourly wage amount at all. Instead, they work entirely on commission or as unpaid training apprentices. In addition to wage and hour complaints, many employers do not give service workers time to eat lunch or go to the bathroom. Employers who engage in these types of wage abuses may be in violation of federal, state, or local laws.

Contact Our New York City Wage & Hour Attorneys

At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we focus our practice on New York employment law. Over our many years representing clients, we’ve seen firsthand the wage and hour abuses suffered by many personal service workers. If you work at a hair salon, nail salon, or in any other service area, your employer may be unlawfully withholding a portion of your wages. Contact our New York City law firm today to schedule a consultation and learn how our employment law firm can fight for you.