Hair braider wins lawsuit challenging Utah rules

IVAN MORENO
August 10, 2012
FILE - In this April 15, 2011 file photo, Jestina Clayton braids the hair of her daughter, Esther Clayton, 5, at her home in Centerville, Utah. Clayton a part-time hair braider has won her federal lawsuit against Utah, claiming the state's requirements to obtain a cosmetology license are irrelevant to her job and an unconstitutional infringement on her right to earn a living. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart,File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman who braids hair to supplement her family's income has won her federal lawsuit against Utah over its licensing process for her craft.

Jestina Clayton sued last year after she found it would be illegal to run a hair-braiding business without a license. She says she learned how to braid hair as a 5-year-old in her West African home country of Sierra Leone, and she was doing it in suburban Salt Lake City to support her two children while her husband finished school.

A judge this week found that Utah's requirements are irrelevant to the craft of braiding and that the state couldn't prove a cosmetology license is needed to protect public health.

Utah is among eight states that require braiders to have full cosmetology licenses, while others such as California and Arizona exempt them from such laws.