NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lawsuit against a New York nail salon brought by manicurists alleging that shop's owners routinely failed to pay them the minimum wage and overtime can move forward, a federal judge said on Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan in April as a proposed class action, came a month before a series of investigative articles by The New York Times revealed rampant wage theft and hazardous working conditions in New York nail salons.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken denied Gypsophila Nail & Spa's bid to throw out the lawsuit, which claims the Manhattan salon paid employees wages as low as $6.67 per hour for work weeks that often stretched past 60 hours. Employees in New York state are entitled to a minimum wage of $8.75 an hour and a 40 hour work week.

The suit also claims owners denied workers breaks and illegally retained part of their tips.


Just days after the Times articles were published in May, a separate lawsuit making similar claims about unpaid overtime and wage violations against several Upper East Side salons was filed in Manhattan.

Oetken ruled the employees, whose names are not revealed in the complaint, performed work doing manicures and pedicures as well as cleaning duties that could be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law that governs wage rules. The opinion allows the case to continue to the next stage of litigation.

"The ruling is unfortunate for my client who now will have to spend more money, effort and time to defend this case," said lawyer Simon Shih-Min Chang, who represents Gypsophila.

He said the Manhattan salon was a local business that just opened up last year and serves mostly neighborhood clients.

Jian Hang, an attorney in Flushing, New York representing the manicurists, declined to comment.

In response to the Times report, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of a task force to investigate nail salons and establish new rules to protect manicurists from harmful chemicals.

On Friday Cuomo unveiled a manicurists' bill of rights that must be posted in salons in various languages detailing minimum wage laws and safety requirements meant to protect employees.

The case is Chen et al v. Gypsophila Nail & Spa Inc. et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:15-cv-02520.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Steve Orlofsky)

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