Wage theft nailed: Envy nails slapped with $300K fine for stiffing workers

August 17, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Attorney General Letitia James announced a successful recovery of $300,000 in unpaid wages for more than 100 workers at Envy Nails, a chain of 25 nail salons located across The Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. The workers, many of whom are vulnerable immigrants and workers of color, were cheated out of the minimum wage they were entitled to receive between 2015 and 2021.

The settlement is the result of a multi-agency investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the New York State Department of State (DOS). Envy Nails will not only pay restitution to its employees but also dissolve improperly registered corporate entities and submit reports to OAG for a period of three years.

Nails 181, an Envy Nails entity, has also pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, for failing to pay sales tax between September 2014 and August 2019. New York County Supreme Court Judge Laurie Peterson ordered tax judgments against Nails 181, totaling more than $275,000.

“Wage theft undermines the basic rights of working New Yorkers,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. She thanked Attorney General James and Gov. Kathy Hochul for their dedication to ensuring no New Yorker is robbed of their hard-earned wages.

The investigation revealed that between 2015 and 2021, Envy Nails systematically underpaid its workers, in violation of New York state labor laws. The salons misclassified their workers as independent contractors, did not pay them the required minimum wages or overtime pay, and further underreported over $2 million in taxable sales, resulting in the underpayment of at least $90,000 in owed sales tax.

Attorney General James has consistently worked to defend workers’ rights and stop wage theft. Over the past year, she has successfully recovered unpaid wages for workers in various industries, including dry cleaning, food service, construction and more.

“In 2018, our union was proud to stand with nail salon workers at Envy and work with them to file wage theft complaints,” said Julie Bracero-Kelly, general manager, NY NJ Regional Joint Board of Workers United. She added that labor violations like wage theft and employee misclassification are all too common in the nail salon industry and thanked the attorney general for investigating the case and fighting for the rights of these workers.

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