Monday, May 2, 2016

Beacon Center Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the State Government

In its first statewide legal challenge, the Beacon Center Legal Foundation has filed a civil rights

Tammy Pritchard prohibited by the
State of Tennessee from working
washing hair.
lawsuit on behalf of Memphis resident Tammy Pritchard. The lawsuit is in response to Tennessee's unfair and unconstitutional occupational licensing regulation on shampooing.

The state of Tennessee forces hair washers to get a license before they are legally allowed to shampoo anyone's hair, if they get paid for it. Due to the state's licensing requirement, residents must spend hundreds of hours in educational programs that cost thousands of dollars before they are able to carry out this simple task of washing someone's hair. Now, I am not opposed to all licensing. I want my doctor to be licensed. Maybe even the beautician who is going to put harsh chemicals on one's hair needs licensed. But the hair wash girl? There is no health and safety justification for requiring African hair weavers, or flower arrangers, or hair wash girls or lock smiths to be licensed.

 Even worse in the case of the requirement to be licensed to wash hair, no one can currently acquire a license to shampoo hair in Tennessee. This is because there is currently no school in the entire state that offers the course that is a mandated component of the hair washing license. That means that unless you already have a hair washing license from years ago or from another state, you are unable to wash hair in Tennessee without obtaining a full cosmetology license, something that requires 1,500 hours of schooling and costs as much as $35,000 in tuition.

Beacon Director of Litigation and former U.S. Justice Department Attorney Braden Boucek stated, "The idea that a person needs to have a license to do something as simple as washing hair is not just foolish, it is unconstitutional.  These laws are designed by people already in the business who are attempting to unfairly shield themselves from competition at the expense of hard working Tennesseans. That’s not what laws are for. People want to work, and this regulation hurts the very people who need a job the most. The government is preventing low-income Tennesseans from getting a good a job, and we at the Beacon Center are ready to put a stop to that."

Boucek went on to note, "The worst part of this regulation is that the state requires you to go to a school to get a license but is unaware of any school that actually offers the program."

I hope the Beacon Center succeeds in this effort. I will be increasing my financial support for the Beacon Center. It is a shame they have to file suit to overturn this licensing requirement. I am very disappointed that our state legislature has not addressed this. Better than spending their time on making the Bible the official book or passing a state law to solve a bathroom problem that I am not sure even exist, I think the State legislature' energy would be better spend identifying and removing needless license requirements. I think the State legislature should examine ever license requirement of the state and ask (1) Does this occupation need a license, and (2) is the amount of training required appropriate or excessive? I think each license requirement should also have a sunset provision so they are revisited every two years or so.

Back in 1980 when I began serving in the Metro Council, one of the first issues I had to vote on was whether or not to repeal a license requirement that required movie theater projectionist to be licensed. For some of you, 1980 was before you were born, but even in 1980 running a movie projector was already an easy task It involved inserting a movie cassette in a machine. If a multiplex had ten screens, they were supposed to have a projectionist for each screen. I understand that in the early days of the movie industry running a movie projector was a job that required skill and movie projectors could be a fire hazard. That had not been the case in many years. The unions had been trying to force the movie theaters to follow this license requirement and the movie theaters sought to have the law repealed. It was repealed but it was a hotly contested issue and organized labor fought the repeal.

While there may be some justifications for some professional license, often a professional license serves no purpose except to protect those already in business from competition.

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1 comment:

  1. I was a movie projectionist at age 16. took about 1 hour to learn and a few night to get it down pat.