A class action lawsuit was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court Tuesday against a popular nail salon chain accused of wage theft and
Natalie Salon, a chain with locations in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Mateo and Los Gatos, is being sued by four current and former employees with the assistance of the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus, which held a news conference Tuesday to announce the lawsuit.
"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 never got 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 management were not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.
Kao said the Asian Law Caucus got involved in the case after one of the employees came to a free clinic the group held and told them 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 come 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.
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