Angels on Earth Home Beauty LLC, a cosmetology dispatch service founded by entrepreneur Lauren Boice, filed a lawsuit against the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology accusing it of “irrational, oppressive, and unlawful regulations.”
Angels on Earth was founded in 2008 by Boice to connect the elderly, sick, and terminally ill with licensed cosmetologists. Homebound individuals desiring a haircut, manicure, or massage call Boice, who matches them with a cosmetologist who will visit the client’s home or assisted living center. Boice herself is not a licensed cosmetologist and does not perform services. Boice contends that she runs a dispatch service and the dispatch service should not be governed by the board of cosmetology, which in June of 2011, after receiving an anonymous complaint regarding Angels on Earth not having a salon license, informed Boice that Angels on Earth was in violation of several Arizona state laws pertaining to the cosmetology industry and later told Boice that she would need to open a physical salon location. Boice contends that since all clients requesting services are homebound that she would not use a physical salon and should not be required to open one.
Donna Aune, executive director of the Arizona State Board, told NAILS in an interview, “We do that because we need to do inspections to make sure people are licensed and disinfect their implements. If we go into a licensed salon, we need to be able to check their sanitation and disinfection….Licensed people have to work in licensed establishments; that’s what our statutes say. They can be mobile, as long as they are sent from licensed salons.”
The state board told Boice she could open the salon in her home, where it would have to comply with all board regulations. The other two options given by the board are establishing a separate salon or renting space at an existing salon. However, in the instance of the latter, Boice would have to relinquish management of her business to the owner of that salon.
Christina Sandefur, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation who is representing Angels on Earth, said in an interview with NAILS, “It doesn’t make sense to have someone open a salon that they won’t use.” She likened Boice’s situation to that of Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster, Sandefur says, “doesn’t purchase concert halls and doesn’t have to abide by the fire code for concert halls. It’s the middleman.”
Also in the lawsuit complaint, the plaintiff details the steps she took before filing the lawsuit to comply with the board’s regulations. Boice indicates that she filed for and received a salon license, and only after receiving the license was told she must register a trade name for her business, which caused her to change all of Angels on Earth’s printed materials to reflect the registered trade name. Boice says only after this was she told that she must keep an up-to-the-day appointment book at the salon that agreed to rent space to her, which Boice says is unreasonable because she keeps the appointment book with her so as to book appointments while traveling. “It was a make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of thing. People should know ahead of time what kinds of things they need to do to comply,” Boice’s lawyer Sandefur told NAILS.
The state board’s Aune says, “We have no way of regulation if people are all over and we don’t know where they are. She can write on a piece of paper. She doesn’t have to have an actual appointment book.”
In a press release, Boice says, “The board has shown no interest in helping my elderly or sick clients. If they’re depriving customers of services and putting people out of business, how is it helping Arizonans?”
The state board’s Aune told NAILS, “Some of these people have compromised immune systems. It’s more important to them to make sure everything is disinfected and sanitized. They’re entitled to the same rights that we have going into a salon.”
Take action: If you’re in Arizona and feel strongly on this case, the Goldwater Institute encourages you to write a letter to either the cosmetology board or the attorney general. Alternately, if you know of situations similar to Angels on Earth in other states, the Goldwater Institute encourages you to write to your representative or write to the Goldwater Institute for a referral to the appropriate contact in your state.