A group of hair salons in California have filed a lawsuit against state officials, asking that the governor allow hair salons to operate with appropriate safety measures.
The coronavirus Los Angeles hair salon lawsuit was filed by the Professional Beauty Federation of California, Corinne Lam, P2W Learning Systems LLC, Ronor Leasing Inc., Zenbi Salons Inc., and Rose Ibarra.
These are businesses and independent contractors in the salon industry who say that their businesses were negatively impacted by the California executive order that required all non-essential businesses to close.
They protest the categorization of hair salons as non-essential, and argue that the state government does not have the authority to order hair salons to close.
The hair stylists claim that the state has threatened to take away the licenses of stylists or hair salons in California who operate despite orders to close.
However, the stylists argue that it is precisely because of their licenses and health training that stylists should be allowed to continue operation while observing protective measures to help slow the spread of the virus.
Providing background to their allegations against California officials, the hair salons explain that on Jan. 31, the federal government declared a public health emergency to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
This move by the federal government was then followed by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a State of Emergency on March 4, say the stylists.
The federal declaration was then escalated to a National State of Emergency on March 13, after which Gov. Newsom moved to close all non-essential businesses on March 19.
However, the hair salons argue that, from the inception of the shutdown order, the distinctions between what businesses were considered essential and which were not were blurred and, in some cases, not seemingly based on public health.
The salons note that workers supporting the entertainment industry were deemed essential, including hair stylists and beauticians that support the industry. They also note that those stylists who provide grooming services to the elderly are also considered essential.
However, hair stylists and other beauticians outside of the entertainment and elder care industry were allegedly not considered essential. In the eyes of the hair stylists, this distinction between essential and non-essential beauticians and hair salons in California was not based on public health.
The stylists go on to say that, per the coronavirus Los Angeles executive order, hair stylists are permitted to sell hair products, because they fall under the permitted category of “distributors of […] cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, or sterilization supplies, personal hygiene products, and tissue and paper towel products.”
In sum, the hair salons in California note that, while those in their industry are “essential for selling of shampoo, they are deemed non-essential when it comes to licensed services.”
The COVID-19 stylist licensing lawsuit then states that the executive order threatens to revoke the licenses of hair stylists and hair salons in California if they practice their licensed professions while the executive order is still in place.
They argue that though the measures claim to be in the best interest of public health, other exceptions to the order indicate that the order does not attempt, or is not effective in protecting public health.
The beauty industry members stress that laundry services may continue to operate, though their services rely on touching items that may contain the virus.
Providing further examples of how the executive order is not strictly focused on public health, they note that espresso bars, chiropractors, and recreational cannabis dispensaries are still allowed to operate, among other businesses. In the eyes of the stylists, these businesses pose an equal or greater risk to public health than hair salons do.
They stress that hair stylists are licensed professionals who have safety and health training and are quite capable of operating while maintaining proper protective and safety measures needed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The hair salons in California COVID-19 lawsuit then goes on to question the validity of the executive order itself, saying that it is outside of the bounds of the government’s power.
Allegedly, there is no power expressly granted to the governor in the Emergency Services Act to close businesses and contain Californians to their homes indefinitely.
How have shelter-in-place orders affected your community? Share your experiences in the comments below.
The hair salons in California are represented by Harmeet Dhillon, Mark P. Meuser, and Gregory R. Michael of the Dhillon Law Group Inc.; and by Jake M. Vollebregt of Vollebregt Law Corporation.
The Coronavirus Los Angeles Hair Salon Closure Lawsuit is Professional Beauty Federation of California, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al., Case No. 2:20-cv-04275, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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