Beacon Center sues state over shampoo licensing

News release from Beacon Center of Tennessee
In its first statewide legal challenge, the Beacon Center Legal Foundation filed a civil rights 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 hair. 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 in return for money.

Even worse, no one can currently acquire a license to shampoo hair in Tennessee. This is due to the fact that 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.”

For more details about the case and to read the full story of Tammy Pritchard, click here

UPDATE/NOTE: Excerpt from the Commercial Appeal report:

As one of five states that require the licensing for shampooing, Tennessee calls for the most hours of education, at 300, the Beacon Center maintains.

The lawsuit contends that state regulators could not identify any cosmetology school offering the training, which includes shampoo theory, rinsing and answering the phone.

With no licensing available for shampooing, only cosmetologists, whose licenses require 1,500 hours of schooling, have a monopoly on shampooing, the lawsuit contends.

“Shampooing, it’s just one of those things, we all do it every day,” said Braden Boucek, director of litigation for the Beacon Center. “It’s hard to see a case for why that needs to be licensed to begin with.”

Kevin Walters, a spokesman for the state Department of Commerce & Insurance that includes the cosmetology board, said state officials had no comment about the lawsuit at this time.

The lawsuit lists Tammy Nutall-Pritchard, 47, a resource officer for Humes Preparatory Academy in Memphis, as its plaintiff.

Her sister, Debra Nutall, 54, is known as a pioneer in the natural hair-braiding business. Tennessee state licensing for hair-braiding earlier drove Debra Nutall to Mississippi, although she said she’s no longer in the business.

Nutall-Pritchard wants to supplement her income by shampooing at a beauty shop, but not at the price of getting a cosmetology license. The Beacon Center cited one example of a cosmetology program costing $3,225.

“We don’t have an issue with going to cosmetology, it’s the hours,” Nutall-Pritchard said. “That’s too many hours and too much money.”