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Wage Violations in the Hair Salon Industry

Legal Advocacy for the Rights of New York City Employees

The hair salon industry in New York is rife with wage violations. Like other service workers, people who cut and style hair are entitled to appropriate work conditions and should be paid minimum wage with overtime when appropriate, and hair salons must adhere to the applicable tip rules. At Phillips & Associates, our zealous wage violations attorneys advocate for hair salon workers in New York City whose rights related to wages and work conditions have been violated.

Wage Violations in the Hair Salon Industry

Minimum wage laws protect hair salon workers. They are entitled to earn a full minimum wage, although this amount varies from year to year. Until December 31, 2015, the minimum wage is $8.75 per hour. On December 31, 2015, the minimum wage will increase to $9 an hour. This is higher than the federal minimum wage.

Under New York law, employers may be entitled to a tip credit, however, in order for the employer to qualify for a tip credit, it must first alert the employee in writing. If notice was not made in writing, the employer does not qualify for taking a tip credit. Thus, for example, if you are tipped $20 for a hair cut, a portion of this can go towards your minimum wage, as long as you earn enough in tips to make up the difference. However, if you do not make enough in tips to earn at least the applicable minimum wage, the salon will have to make up the difference.

Moreover, if you spend at least two hours or over 20% of the shift (whichever is less) doing non-tipped work, the employer cannot claim a tip credit for the day. For example, if you spend two hours cleaning your station and working at the front desk answering phone calls from customers, the salon cannot claim a tip credit for the day.

Salons are allowed to require tip pooling. This means that the employer can require all employees who interact a lot with customers providing hair or styling services to chip in some of their tips in a pool that is divided among all employees who interact substantially with customers. However, only employees who provide the hair or styling services are entitled to share in the tip pool. Someone who manages these employees and has significant authority over them, or who does not interact with customers, cannot share in the tip pool.

Spread of hours violations are also common in the hair salon industry. "Spread of hours" refers to the total amount of a person's workday. For example, you might have two four-hour shifts with ordinary breaks, plus a three-hour gap during which time you can do whatever you want. In that case, your spread of hours is 11 hours long. In New York, any employee who has a spread of hours that is more than 10 hours is entitled to one hour's pay. The employer is not allowed to take a tip credit for a day on which the spread of hours is over 10 hours. This hour of pay is often overlooked. The statute of limitations to bring a spread of hours violation claim is six years.

In some cases, people who work in a hair salon are misclassified as independent contractors or exempt workers. Whether a hair stylist is an independent contractor or an employee may depend on different factors, depending on whether his or her claims are based on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the New York Labor Law.

Just because you are salaried, moreover, does not mean your employer does not have to pay you overtime. Your job duties have to qualify for an FLSA overtime exemption classification, such as an administrative or executive exemption, in order for your employer to avoid paying overtime.

Explore Your Options with a Wage and Hour Attorney in New York City

Employees of a hair salon who are not receiving the appropriate pay and believe a salon is committing wage violations should contact an experienced New York City lawyer to pursue an overtime or other wage and hour claim. Call Phillips & Associates at (833) 529-3476 or contact us through our online form to set up a free appointment. We assist employees throughout the five boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as in Westchester County and Long Island.

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