Today, the Texas Supreme Court struck down a state regulation requiring professional eyebrow-threaders to first get a cosmetology license requiring 750 hours of cosmetology training (with no focus on eyebrow threading) and pass two cosmetology exams (which ask nothing about eyebrow threading).
The court ruled 6-3 in favor of defendant Ash Patel, when deciding Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The non-profit Institute for Justice, which joined Patel in his lawsuit, said in a statement today that:
The case began in 2008, when TDLR suddenly decided that eyebrow threading—a traditional South Asian practice that uses only cotton thread to remove eyebrow hair—required the same license that conventional cosmetologists need for techniques like waxing, makeup and chemical peels. TDLR issued $2,000 penalties to threaders across the state and ordered them to quit their jobs until they completed coursework in private beauty schools costing between $7,000 and $22,000. None of this coursework is required to address eyebrow threading and the state’s cosmetology examinations do not require any knowledge of threading.
Three threaders and two threading business owners joined with the Institute for Justice and sued TDLR in 2009, arguing that the Texas Constitution prohibits useless and expensive training requirements that do nothing to protect the public.
This is not the first pointless cosmetology licensing law to be overturned in Texas this year, with help from the Institute for Justice. In January, a federal judge ruled against state requirements mandating that professional hairbraiders meet the same high licensing standards as barbers. In April, the state House of Representatives voted unanimously to deregulate hairbraiding, and in June the governor signed the braiding bill into law.
At the time, an IJ attorney called the ruling a victory for hairbraiders in the state, but added “occupational licensing has gone too far when 1 in 3 Texans are forced to obtain a government license to simply go to work each morning.”