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New Report Details Wages Lost Due To Theft In Nail Salon Industry

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new report says nail salon workers are having their wages stolen at an alarming rate.

So what is being done about it? CBS2's Nick Caloway found out on Tuesday.

Having long been victims of harsh working conditions and wage theft, nail salon workers now hope their voices are heard.

"I'd end up working seven days a week to get paid $200 to $300," worker Miriam Reyes said.

Reyes is not the only one.

A study released Tuesday by the New York Nail Salon Workers Association shows a staggering amount -- 80% -- of those employees are experiencing wage theft.

The study reports that workers lose on average $181 per week. That's equal to more than $9,400 per year.

Workers say they are regularly paid less than minimum wage and forced to work extra hours with no overtime pay.

For Reyes, that's money that she needs to feed her family.

"It takes food off my table, and paying my bills late," she said.

"There's something wrong with this industry. And if we continue to ignore what's happening, it's the workers that are being affected," said Luis Gomez of Workers United.

Five years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced legislation to protect nail salon workers and curb exploitation in the industry. A new bill to be introduced in Albany this month aims to add more protections for workers. The Nail Salon Accountability Act would link business licensing to labor law compliance, Caloway reported.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said the workers need that protection.

"They are trying to make an honest living. Yet they are deprived of their dignity, their health, and their wages," Rosenthal said.

According to a report, the average cost of a manicure in New York City and Long Island is just $11.14. Researchers found a clear correlation between manicure prices and wage theft. The cheaper the service, the more employees report wage theft.

So just because a manicure is cheap, doesn't mean someone isn't paying a price.

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