After Defeating Government’s Crazy Requirements for Who Can Thread Eyebrows, Immigrant Poised to Achieve American Dream

“I came to this country because it offered better opportunities to start a business and make my dreams come true. But for years, Louisiana worked to keep me and my employees from making a living.”

That is how Lata Jagtiani, who emigrated from India, frames her yearslong struggle to sustain her family-owned business in Louisiana under a senseless state licensing scheme.

Now, after a two-year court battle, state regulators have cut back the needless red tape that inhibited her business.

Jagtiani opened the Threading Studio & Spa in 2012 and, as the name conveys, offered threading: a traditional Eastern hair removal technique that is in high demand in the United States.

Since 2010, the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology has required anyone who performs threading to get a state esthetician’s license. That demands hundreds of hours of instruction, three exams, and thousands of dollars. It does not teach threading.

Jagtiani’s licensed colleagues could not thread because they hadn’t learned how. To keep her threading business going,  Jagtiani employed unlicensed threaders.

As a result, the board fined her and ordered her to fire the unlicensed employees.

Predictably, her business suffered.

Surely, the fired workers suffered.

With the help of the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm, Jagtiani sued the board, claiming that the licensing requirement violated the state’s constitutional protections of equal protection and due process.

Two others joined Jagtiani as plaintiffs in the case: Ushaben Chudasama, a threader who emigrated from India in 1993, and Panna Shah, a threader who emigrated from India in 2006.

According to the the Institute for Justice, “the Louisiana Supreme Court has recognized that laws that restrict the right to earn a living must be rationally related to a legitimate government interest.”

Forcing immigrants to pay thousands of dollars to spend time in classes that won’t teach a trade they already know hardly seems rational.

After a state district court last year rejected the board’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the board began to rethink its rules.

Earlier this year, the board created a threading permit to allow Jagtiani, Chudasama, Shah, and other threaders to work following a basic sanitation exam.

Photo: Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA Press/Newscom