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Andrew Cuomo

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t waste any time when he heard of the labor and health violations against nail salon workers in a recent investigative report from the New York Times.

Cuomo has ordered a task force effective immediately to review practices in nail salons. The task force will enforce new regulations requiring employers to protect workers from dangerous chemicals and to educate them on their labor rights. In addition, salons without licenses or that haven’t paid workers for owed wages will be shut down.

The NYT report detailed workers’ exploitation and illnesses connected to cancer, miscarriages and lung diseases that are rooted in their work.

In a statement about the initiative, Cuomo said: “New York State has a long history of confronting wage theft and unfair labor practices head on, and today, with the formation of this new Enforcement Task Force, we are aggressively following in that tradition…We will not stand idly by as workers are deprived of their hard-earned wages and robbed of their most basic rights.”

In a Facebook chat today about the story, author Sarah Maslin Nir explained that she focused her report on the New York area but noted that especially low prices are a strong indicator of wage theft in nail salons across the country. She also said that she’ll do a follow-up piece tracking the effects of Cuomo’s task force and discussing organizations fighting worker exploitation in New York.

Plans to enforce rules from the task force are still taking shape. You can read the NYT investigative report here and here.

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