Occupational Licensing

Another Win Against Hair-Braiding Licensing in Washington State


Forget hours of training. How many hours did it take to do this?
Courtesy of Institute for Justice

Salamata Sylla, an immigrant from Senegal to the United States, will not have to take 1,600 unnecessary hours of utterly irrelevant cosmetology training in order to keep operating her hair-braiding business in Washington State. It's another victory for the lawyers at the Institute for Justice, fighting similar licensing regulations across the country designed to protect established businesses from competitors in the guise of public health or safety.

Sylla's case is particularly notable in that it shouldn't even have happened in the first place. According to the Institute for Justice, the state's Department of Licensing determined in a similar case in 2004 that hair-braiders do not need cosmetology training. But they concluded that battle with a non-binding policy statement. That's obviously bureaucratic-code for "Enforce it if you think you can get away with it."

They targeted Sylla in 2013, and not only did she fight back, she's gotten an apology from the Department and an agreement to put an actual administrative rule on the books exempting hair-braiders from the training. The Institute for Justice praised the decision but warned that it will keep watching to make sure they actually follow through and create the exemption in writing. The Institution for Justice is also fighting similar regulations right now in Arkansas and Missouri.

Below, Reason TV documented a similar, and similarly successful, fight against these unnecessary licensing regulations in Mississippi: