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Makeup teachers sue Nevada board over license requirement

Two Nevada residents who operated schools to teach professional makeup application say that they should not have to get cosmetology licenses as required by the State Board of Cosmetology. The women, who encountered heavy fines when they attempted to run their businesses without a license, have filed litigation in federal court against the board, accusing it of violating their constitutional rights.

The plaintiffs are experienced makeup artists who have worked in advertising and modeling projects, as well as film and television. They separately decided to open schools to teach their makeup skills to others looking to enter the business.

But the Board of Cosmetology told the women that to do so, they would have to obtain a license to operate a cosmetology school. To qualify for a license, they would be required to operate in a space at least 5,000 square feet large and equipped for the teaching of other beauty techniques like hair styling, manicures and facials -- things the women do not specialize in and do not intend to teach, their attorney said.

When the women opened their schools without licenses, the board began fining them $2,000 per day. One of the plaintiffs was forced to shut down after a few months. The other continues to operate through a legal loophole that allows her to sell makeup kits to her students and then "demonstrate" their use instead of "teach" them makeup application.

However, both plaintiffs are arguing that they have been discriminated against by the Board of Cosmetology. They are alleging that the lack of a license for specialized makeup academies violates their First Amendment right to free speech and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

The executive director of the Cosmetology Board admitted that state laws related to the issue are out of date, but said that current law does not allow for an exception. He said that the license requirements are meant to prevent the spread of disease.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, "Makeup artists' lawsuit doesn't powder over dispute with Cosmetology Board," Conor Shine and Dave Toplikar, June 20, 2012

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