Lawsuit Fights Against Requirement For Barbers To Have High School Diploma

An organization described as a government watchdog is representing a man who cannot get his license to become a barber in Tennessee because he does not have a high school diploma.

The Beacon Center has filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barbers Examiners, a group under the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, on behalf of Elias Zarate.

The 25-year-old Memphis father was fined last year for having an improper license at a barbershop during a routine inspection.

It turned out Zarate was not eligible to work as a barber because of existing Tennessee laws.

Instead of just having to complete 1,500 hours in a registered barber school, state lawmakers passed a bill in 2015 that required applicants to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED.

“Elias had to drop out of school to take care of his family and the state of Tennessee is punishing him for it. We asked the state legislature to fix this last session, but because they failed to act, we are forced to take it to court so that good, hard-working people like Elias can earn an honest living,” said Braden Boucek, Director of Litigation for the Beacon Center.

It is argued that the regulation is unconstitutional, irrational and unfair.

The organization said in an attempt to “clean up” as part of the merger of the cosmetology and barber boards a few years ago, entry level requirements differed.