Connecticut Labor Department shutters nail salons for wage violations, recovers $47,000

Associated Press

State labor officials shuttered nearly two dozen nail salons, recovered more than $47,000 in wages owed to employees and penalized businesses $100,000 for pay and records violations.

The Department of Labor said Monday that it responded to complaints from nail salon employees about health and employment practices. The businesses reopened after complying with state laws.

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Stop-work orders were issued against more than 20 nail salons in Branford, Darien, Hartford, New Haven, Southport, Stamford and Westport.

A representative of the Nail and Spa Association of Connecticut did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Gary Pechie, director of the Labor Department's wage and workplace standards division, said a representative of the association apologized and a meeting with the Department of Labor is being arranged.

Workers were paid in cash with no payroll records, wages were below the hourly minimum wage of $9.15 and overtime was unpaid, Pechie said. Some workers were illegally paid as little as $4 an hour, he said. Employers avoided unemployment insurance, income and sales tax payments, he said.

The nail and spa industry in Connecticut has "kind of been under the radar," Pechie said, but officials acted following complaints and a news story published recently by The New York Times detailing wage and hour abuse allegations in New York.

"Let's do a random sweep," Pechie recounted. "Lo and behold, we found noncompliance."