BATON ROUGE, La.—Today, Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court dismissed a case brought by Louisiana hair braiders, challenging the state’s incredibly strict occupational licensing restrictions. Ashley N’Dakpri and Lynn Schofield, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), will appeal the judge’s decision.
“This decision is a disappointment, but it is only a setback,” said IJ Attorney Keith Neely. “We will continue to fight back against these unconstitutional licensing restrictions, which trample the economic liberty rights of Louisianans.”
Ashley is the manager and sole braider at her family’s hair-braiding salon, Afro Touch Braiding. She received a cosmetology license while living in the Ivory Coast and has spent more than a decade safely and cleanly braiding hair at Afro Touch. She does not want to do cosmetology work; she simply wants to continue earning an honest living by braiding hair.
“I don’t understand why I need to get a license to braid hair, when I’ve been doing so for happy customers for years. I know what I’m doing,” said Ashley. “I’m frustrated and annoyed with this decision, but I’m determined to keep fighting to earn the right to keep doing the work I love doing.”
Ashley and her aunt, Lynn Schofield, teamed up with IJ to file this lawsuit in 2019, challenging the restriction which requires hair braiders to spend 500 hours to obtain an alternative hair braiding license. Ashley wants to continue braiding hair and wants to expand Afro Touch by hiring more braiders, some of whom also won’t have unnecessary alternative hair braiding permits.
Natural hair braiding involves no harsh chemicals. It simply involves extending hair using natural means and products. If Ashley moved across state lines to Mississippi or Texas, she would be legally allowed to continue braiding hair.