Judge refuses to toss bias claims over salon inspections
BATON ROUGE - A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses Louisiana state regulators of racially discriminating against a group of Vietnamese-American nail salon owners.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson's ruling Tuesday clears the way for a jury trial next month in Baton Rouge for the salon owners' case against the Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology and two agency inspectors.
Inspectors check for stray hairs, make sure items are stocked and technicians are properly licensed. The State Board of Cosmetology says it protects customers from health issues.
However, the four plaintiffs say while Vietnamese-owned businesses account for only 9 percent of the salons regulated by the state agency, they paid at least 80 percent of all board-imposed fines in each year between 2011 and 2013.
The Vietnamese and Asian American salon owners believe they were unfairly targeted because of their race. A lawsuit was filed over the situation, but the State Board of Cosmetology countered by saying the group is trying to avoid salon inspections meant to protect customers.
One plaintiff also claims an inspector unlawfully detained her and her employees for approximately two hours during a 2013 inspection.
The trial is scheduled to start March 13 and last roughly one week.