by Christina Sandefur
Nashville entrepreneur Armand Lauzon created a unique business called Project Belle, which connects customers directly with cosmetologists who can perform in-home or at-work services in Tennessee. While Armand’s customers were thrilled with the convenience of being able to book cosmetology services with greater flexibility, his competitors were not pleased with his success. One of them reported Project Belle to the Tennessee State Board of Cosmetology, which determined that Armand’s business was violating a regulation that makes it illegal to practice cosmetology outside of a brick-and-mortar salon.
Armand was shocked – after all, he does not own a salon and does not perform cosmetology services himself. But the Board refused to back down, fining him $500 and demanding he cease to operate his business. Luckily, our friends at the Beacon Center of Tennessee stepped in to defend Armand’s rights in court. You can learn more about Armand’s case by listening to this podcast, produced by the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project.
Sadly, Armand’s situation is not unique. Several years ago, Lauren Boice opened a similar business in southern Arizona and was also targeted by the state Board of Cosmetology. (Watch a video about her story, below.) A cancer survivor and former hospice nurse’s assistant, Lauren understood all too well that personal beauty services lifted the spirits of homebound patients. So she started Angels on Earth Home Beauty to connect the elderly, sick, and terminally ill with licensed cosmetologists who can perform haircuts, manicures, or massages right in clients’ homes. Her clients were grateful for her business, and her services were in high demand.
Lauren soon learned that in the eyes of regulatory boards, no good deed goes unpunished. Like Armand, Lauren did not own a salon and did not practice cosmetology – yet the Arizona Board of Cosmetology decided to regulate Lauren’s phone business as if it were a beauty salon and subjected her to criminal penalties if she refused to comply.
The Goldwater Institute took Lauren’s fight to court to defend her constitutional right to earn a living and help her sick clients. After a 16-month legal battle, the Board agreed to a binding settlement, assuring it would never regulate Lauren or other businesses like hers.
Too many entrepreneurs like Lauren and Armand are threatened, sanctioned, and put out of business by regulatory boards nationwide. That’s why the Goldwater Institute drafted the Right to Earn a Living Act, a state law that requires government to prove some real risk to the public before it can restrict entrepreneurs’ freedom. Arizona became the first state to pass this important protection, and Tennessee has also enacted its own version of the Act.
We’ll be working with partners in states nationwide to ensure that the right to earn a living is protected and respected nationwide.
Christina Sandefur is Executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute.