Hairstylists to File Lawsuit Against Louisiana Over Braiding License Requirements | WNTZ
BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Two hairstylists are fighting protocols that require thousands of dollars in training, citing they believe it overrides their rights. The Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology is pushing back in the name of health and safety.
Is it necessary to require natural hair braiders to be licensed? That’s the discussion that took place in the 19th Judicial District Court between the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology and the hair braiding contractors.
“The black woman is the only woman in the world who does so much,” said hair entrepreneur Ashley N’Dakpri.
N’Dakpri said she was looking to remove barriers, like extended licenses, for young women pursuing a career in hair braiding.
“I feel like I’m making life a little bit easier for the little girls after me,” she said.
In court, the hair braiders argued the licensing requirement was unconstitutional while the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology believes they are operating within their rights.
Afro Touch owner Lynn Schofield says hair braiding goes back hundreds of years without a license.
“I’m from Africa and we’ve been braiding our hair ever since we [were] younger,” Schofield said.
“It’s part of our culture,” N’Dakpri added.
Schofield, a veteran braider, said licensing costs put a financial burden on prospective stylists and businesses.
“When it happened, it cost me dearly. It cost me dearly to lose my whole shop and braiders because braiders couldn’t braid without a license. So I lost lots and lots of money” , explained Schofield.
The Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology said in a statement:
“The minimum education requirements for a license include training in bacteriology and sanitation, and infection control. Basic knowledge of these topics is necessary to protect customers from injury and illness… Customer safety is paramount. Without proper training, customer safety is at risk. “
“But the problem is that braiding natural hair is completely safe. There is nothing to indicate that braiding natural hair is a risk to public health, and nothing in the permit requirement is actually intended to protect public health” , said hair entrepreneurs attorney Keith Neely.
“You don’t need any additional tools or chemicals to braid,” N’Dakpri added.
To obtain the license, braiders must complete 500 hours of training and pass an exam. Without a license, a company and its employees can be fined.
N’Dakpri and Schofield were repeatedly cited by the council for not having a license and employing unlicensed braiders. Each citation is the risk of a $5,000 penalty. So far, the citations have not turned into fines, a spokesperson for the braiders said.
The Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology said:
“While the two complainants agree that technical and health training is necessary to protect customers, they refuse to obtain authorizations. One complainant let her license expire and the other who completed her cosmetology studies in another country is refusing to apply for a license.
The court denied both parties on the motion for summary judgment. The Institution for Justice is considering going to court. A trial date has not been set.