State sued over ‘unnecessary and onerous’ licensing requirements for threaders


A Texas company has sued the state of Iowa for requiring hair removal professionals to complete 600 hours of “unnecessary” training to obtain a license.

Arsah Enterprise Inc., which does business in Iowa as The Perfect Brow Bar, operates a filleting salon at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines.

The company is suing the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Council of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences to stop them from “forcing a small business owner out of business due to a unconstitutional professional licensing system”.

The lawsuit describes threading as “an ancient grooming technique that uses a strand of cotton thread to pluck unwanted hair” from clients’ eyebrows and other areas of the body. He alleges that despite the simple nature of filleting and the lack of risk to the public associated with its use, the state imposes “an onerous professional licensing regime on persons who wish to perform filleting.”

Under Iowa law, a threader must be licensed by the Iowa Council of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences as an esthetician. Obtaining an esthetician’s license requires a person to complete 600 hours of training in esthetics, which can cost more than $12,000, according to the plaintiffs.

“These hours, however, are unnecessary for a would-be threader, because esthetics programs in Iowa provide no training for threading students,” the lawsuit alleges. “Students just have to pay and take a course of education that has nothing to do with the profession they want. After completing 600 hours of unnecessary classroom instruction, students must also score 75% or higher on an exam promulgated by the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.

The plaintiffs allege that the exam does not include any material “relevant to the practice of threading”. They also allege that the licensing regime for threaders is disproportionate to the training requirements imposed for other professions where human life and safety are at risk.

For example, plaintiffs note that an emergency medical technician in Iowa only needs 110 hours of classroom instruction; a school bus driver only needs 15 hours; and a dental assistant only needs 20 hours. In fact, according to the plaintiffs, “the amount of classroom training required to wax with a thread is nearly the same as the 628 hours required to be a certified Iowa peace officer.”

The company alleges that although it has done its best to hire people who are licensed as beauticians, barriers to obtaining a license “make it functionally impossible” to find employees.

The lawsuit seeks a court order that will permanently prevent the council and the Department of Public Health from enforcing any of their filleting-related licensing requirements.

The plaintiffs are represented by Alan R. Ostergren, the former Muscatine County attorney who is now president and legal counsel for the Kirkwood Institute, a privately funded organization that describes itself as a “public interest law firm.” conservative who is dedicated to advancing the rights of Iowans.

The state has yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

Licensure reform has been on Governor Kim Reynolds’ agenda for several years. In her statehood address earlier this week, Reynolds, a Republican, said she and the Iowa Legislature “must continue our work this session to eliminate unnecessary licensing requirements that prevent people to move or work in Iowa”.


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