A class action lawsuit has been filed in San Mateo County Superior Court against a popular nail salon chain accused of wage theft and
other violations against its employees, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus said.
a chain with locations in Los Gatos, Redwood City, San Mateo, Palo Alto and Menlo Park, is being sued by four current and former employees with the assistance of the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus.
"On behalf of all former and current employees, we're seeking to end unlawful business practices" at the salons, said Winnie Kao, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus.
Vicky Tran, who worked at various Natalie Salons for about five years, said she often worked for more than 10 hours a day but was never paid overtime and often had to delay her lunch meal until very late in the day.
"It's wrong to treat the employees that way," Tran said.
Natalie Salon co-owner Bill Dong told Hyphen magazine that he had not heard about the lawsuit but denied that he and his wife and co-owner Natalie Phan had failed to properly pay workers. In the past, Dong told Hyphen, he and his wife paid workers a daily flat rate of at least $85 that satisfied both minimum wage and overtime requirements.
“The majority of Vietnamese-owned nail salons pay a day rate … there’s extra to cover overtime,” Dong said in Vietnamese, during a phone interview, the magazine reported. “Workers claiming that [we don’t pay overtime] are not right.”
Kao said the Asian Law Caucus got involved in the case after one of the employees went to a free law clinic and told about the alleged violations.
She said the Asian Law Caucus has kept a watchful eye on the nail salon industry, which has seen the number of salons triple in the U.S. in the past decade, changing the business "from a luxury service to a relatively inexpensive indulgence."
Of the roughly 96,000 licensed nail salon workers in California, it is estimated that more than half are Vietnamese, and the vast majority are women who are recent immigrants with limited English proficiency and lack of knowledge about their rights.
Kao said those factors lead to many workers who are too scared to go forward and report possible misdeeds by employers.
"Beauty shouldn't come at the expense of workers' rights," she said.
The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for all employees at the salons who may have lost wages over the past four years and seeks to stop the allegedly unlawful practices at the salons, Kao said.
Bay City News Service