Business Management

The Licensing Prosecution Process

What happens when a nail technician or salon is reported to a state board or other regulating agency? Here’s a simplified rundown on what happens – beginning with the initial complaint and ending, in some case, with an arrest.

Nail professional who take themselves and their careers very seriously sometimes compare themselves to doctors and lawyers. Behave as doctors and lawyers do, they suggest, and you’ll be taken as seriously as they are. But there is another way that nail technicians are indeed like doctors and lawyers, and that is what happens when a patient or client lodges a complaint against them and they are reported to the state. What’s at stake is their license and professional reputation.

According to John Lartz, chief of business prosecution for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, the majority of cases such agencies investigate are nail technicians who are working without a license. “I’d say about 80%-90% of the cases we handle are related to unlicensed practices,” he says.

While more serious allegations come up from time to time, the most common complaints many state boards deal with are individuals working without a license and nail techs who are not following proper sanitation procedures, such as using a nail file improperly or not washing their hands before a service.

For the most part, each state follows a similar procedure when investigating complaints. They also go through similar problems, including bogus complaints, which are usually the result of disgruntled employee or an ex-spouse trying to harass the nail tech.

However, the differences on what is allowed and what is not vary from state to state. Nevada, for example, allows the complainant to remain anonymous.

Mary Manna, executive secretary for the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology, says the state permits complainants to remain anonymous only if the allegation in question is sanitation-related.

But other state, such as Illinois, are wary of anonymous callers. Lartz says that the state does receive and investigate anonymous complaints. However, if an investigator is not able to gather enough evidence without knowing who the complainant is, the case might be closed. For example, if the DPR receives a complaint about an unsanitary salon, the investigator may inspect the salon and fund it clean. If the complainant does not come forth, then it is harder to prove that the salon was indeed unsanitary.

Although nail techs are willing to contest allegations and prove that they did nothing wrong, Lartz says it’s far less likely for them to fight tooth and nail for a license than it is for a doctor who has invested more time and money in his career.

“Nail techs are more willing to give up their licenses and work elsewhere,” he says.

What exactly happens after a nail tech or salon is reported to a state board or department of professional regulation? Lartz explains the process in simplified terms for offenders in Illinois.


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