Texas Court Rules against Occupational Licensing Requirement

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A federal court in Texas has ruled in favor of a small African hair braiding business, a win for entrepreneurs against licensing restrictions and unreasonable regulations. States across the country have what are known as “occupational licensing” laws, requiring would-be entrepreneurs and business people to take classes, pass tests and meet other requirements in order to be “licensed” to practice a particular occupation. Thirty-nine states require hair braiders to have a state hair braiding license, and getting the license can be expensive — according to Patrik Jonsson at the Christian Science Monitor, while some states just require a few hours of instruction time, others require up to 2,100.

This particular case involved Isis Brantley, a woman who has spent more than 30 years braiding hair in Dallas, Texas. She has a hair braiding license for her business. Johnson reports that for the last two decades, Brantley has taught students how to braid hair. Unfortunately, her business space did not meet the requirements necessary to be a “barber school” under Texas law, and the state told her she had to meet the requirements or stop teaching braiding.

What does it take to become a licensed barber school? Barbers must comply with a number of requirements concerning their facilities, including:

– Having at least 10 student workstations with reclining chairs.
– Installing a sink behind every two workstations, so that there are at least five sinks.
– Having at least 2,000 square feet of floor space.

What would that have meant for Brantley? She said complying with the regulation would have cost $25,000, in addition to relocating to a new studio and paying higher rent for a much bigger space. Not only were the regulations expensive, but they didn’t make any sense for a business that was not a traditional hair salon — African hair braiding does not cut, wash or chemically treat hair. In fact, the Court said that under Texas law, it would be illegal for the hair braiders to wash hair.

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