February 21, 2024

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Eyebrow threading law gives workers liberty to make a living

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In a final victory for a Kansas couple wanting to hire another family member to provide eyebrow threading in their business, the Kansas Justice Institute successfully dismissed a lawsuit filed on their behalf.

In 2020, KJI — like the Sentinel owned by the Kansas Policy Institute — stepped in to represent business owner, Jigisha Modi, who is a licensed cosmetologist and operates a licensed esthetics business in Olathe. She and her husband, Jignesh Biscuitwala, run the business. They were unable to hire Jignesh’s mother even though she had almost 30 years of experience as an eyebrow threader because she didn’t have a government-issued license. 

Threading is a centuries-old practice, common in many parts of Asia, in which a thread no thicker than dental floss is used to “lasso” unwanted hair — usually on the eyebrows — and remove it. The skill isn’t a part of the Kansas cosmetology school curriculum, but until July 1 of this year the state required threaders to be licensed — and complete 1,000 hours of training for other skills they do not want and will not use.

“Eyebrow threading is very safe,” Jigisha said at the time. “It does not require any chemicals or sharp tools, just a simple piece of cotton thread. It is a very safe technique. And it is very sad for our business and our family that I cannot hire an experienced family member to help.” 

However, the lawsuit filed by Kansas Justice institute prompted legislative intervention, and passed Senate Bill 348 which exempts eyebrow threaders from the licensing — and as the law became effective, KJI and Jigisha Modi’s family dismissed their lawsuit.

 “Kansans have a right to earn an honest living, free from unreasonable government regulations. Sam MacRoberts, litigation director for KJI said. “Our lawsuit and the legislation that followed is a great step forward for liberty.”

Predictably, the Board of Cosmetology opposed legislation

Opponents of the bill, including the State Cosmetology Board — and cosmetology school owners who wanted the state to keep sending them students — claimed exempting the practice from regulation would put the public at risk of receiving services without proper training and oversight.

“I think what we are concerned about is making sure that everyone knows how to protect the public, knows how to protect people from staph infections, from herpes, from infectious diseases,” said Nichole Hines, vice-chair of the Kansas Board of Cosmetology.

“It’s not about keeping anyone out of cosmetology as a whole. We would like to see as many people as possible come into the profession,” Hines said.

“But we also need to make sure that we are at all times protecting the public — health and safety coming first at all times,” she said.

The Sunflower State Journal reported Len Melvin, owner of Hays Academy of Hair Design with campuses located in Hays and Salina was in agreement with the state board.

“It is important to ask ‘why is this particular service being exempted?’” Melvin said in written testimony. “Is it because individuals do not want to go through the trouble of taking the proper steps to be properly trained and licensed? Why?

“If we are serious about properly regulating beauty services to protect those receiving services, I ask this committee to not exempt this service.” 

MacRoberts said at the time, the safety of the procedure and consumers were never really at issue.

“Kansas shouldn’t require 1,000 hours of expensive schooling to be able to use a piece of cotton thread to safely groom eyebrows,” MacRoberts said. “Threading is already safe. This exemption makes sense, treats threaders like braiders, and is a legislative solution to a terribly unjust and unnecessary occupational licensing regime.”

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