Korean Nail Salon Owner Challenges NYS Regs

A Korean nail salon in Manhattan (Photo by Jiwon Choi for Voices of NY)

A Korean nail salon in Manhattan (Photo by Jiwon Choi for Voices of NY)

A Korean nail salon owner filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutional legality of New York state’s new ventilation requirements, which took effect on Oct. 3.

In a complaint filed on Oct. 3 in the New York State Supreme Court of Westchester County, Jung Jin Kim, owner of a nail salon in Mount Vernon, argued that NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the NYS Department of State, the Department of Health, and Department of Agriculture and Markets, violated due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th amendment of the U. S. Constitution, and NYS civil practice law.

The plaintiff also requested for a temporary restraining order to overhaul the new ventilation requirements. [Note: A group of more than two dozen Korean nail salon owners initially planned to file a class-action federal lawsuit against NYS’s new ventilation mandates. However, all but one of them backed out of the lawsuit because they feared government reprisal once their names were exposed, since they did not have the backing of the Korean Nail Salon Association. Kim is the only one of the group who went ahead with the lawsuit. Although they are no longer plaintiffs, members of the group say they still support the lawsuit’s aims.]

According to the complaint, Gov. Cuomo’s June 22 executive order to require ventilation at nail salons was implemented without presenting scientific and medical evidence that demonstrate chemical products used at nail salons cause health risks to nail salon workers and customers, and Gov. Cuomo failed to satisfy procedural requirements for 14 days of hearings to collect public comments before the executive order, the plaintiff argued.

Also, it’s impossible to comply with the new regulation to vent and exhaust 100 percent of all dust, vapors and odor, the suit states, because there is no ventilating system available that can successfully meet all the requirements of the regulation according to the complaint.

In addition, the plaintiff argued that the new ventilation requirements, the bill that mandates wage bonds as security for any unpaid wages, and many of NYS’s recent enforcements, are targeting nail salons that are mostly run by Korean-American small business owners, so these are discriminatory regulations against them.

The court ordered the defendants, including Gov. Cuomo, to submit their responses by Nov. 7. A hearing over the plaintiff’s request for the temporary restraining order is set to be held on Nov. 17.

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