Setback for Nail Salon Owners

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

A New York state judge on March 29 rejected an effort by a Korean nail salon owner to overhaul the state’s new ventilation requirements, a setback for thousands of Korean nail salon owners who condemned the regulation as “discriminatory” against Asian small business owners.

Westchester County Court judge David Everett dismissed a case filed on Oct. 3, 2016, by Jung Jin Kim, owner of a nail salon in Mount Vernon, against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of State, Department of Health, and Department of Labor. Kim argued that the new regulation implemented by Gov. Cuomo’s executive order is unconstitutional as it violates her due process rights and equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and NYS law.

The court also denied the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction against implementation of the new mandates.

In a summary judgment dismissing the complaint, the judge said that the new regulation was adopted following public comments that were properly reviewed by the New York State Department of State, and that the purpose of the new regulation is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public as the defendants asserted.

The judge also stressed that Kim lacks standing to take this action based on the fact that the new regulation does not go into effect until Oct. 3, 2021, and Kim is not currently affected by its implementation. Thus, the enactment of the new regulation does not currently cause her to suffer economic damages as she alleged, the judge stated.

Kim’s lawyer, Michael Driscoll, said that they will appeal the dismissal but didn’t comment any further on the court decision. The appeal must be filed within the next 30 days.

Disappointed by the court decision, Sang Ho Lee, president of the Korean American Nail Salon Association of New York – which initially backed out of the lawsuit but later supported it – said that following the court decision, lobbying the state government to ease the regulation seems to be the only course to pursue in order to protect nail salon owners.

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