Manhattan Federal Jury Awards Back Wages and Reinstatement
New York, NY—After a four-day trial, a federal jury has awarded $182,000 in back wages, overtime pay and damages to Susan Kim, a Korean immigrant nail salon worker who worked for seventeen years at 167 Nail Salon Plaza and was fired in March 2005 after demanding regular breaks. Kim’s requests for liquidated damages and reinstatement are still pending before federal District Judge George Daniels. Two other plaintiffs, Jenny Thiem and Linda Lin, settled their claims for unpaid wages against 167 Nail Plaza and owners Dong Rim Park and Mou San Rim before trial. The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court in October 2005 by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), with pro bono assistance from Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.
AALDEF legal director Ken Kimerling said: “This victory is a significant first step in forcing the reform of wage and hour practices of nail salons in New York City. This industry has thrived through the exploitation of Asian immigrant workers, and we hope that this victory will encourage other nail salon workers to stand up for their rights.”
Today, the plaintiffs and forty supporters gathered in front of 167 Nail Salon Plaza on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to announce their victory. They were joined by elected officials representing the West Side: State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, State Senator Tom Duane, and City Councilmember Gale Brewer.
The nail salon workers and their supporters had picketed for over six months to call attention to the employer’s labor law violations and the workers’ prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. A campaign to support these workers and to bring about changes in the nail salon industry has been organized by Justice Will Be Served!, which includes 318 Restaurant Workers Union, Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association and National Mobilization Against Sweatshops.
Kimerling added, “The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund is proud to have represented these women and looks forward to representing other nail salon workers in the future.” Photos from today’s press conference are available by contacting Jennifer Weng at 212.966.5932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.