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Barber board may discipline non-licensee for displaying pole, court finds

A state board was correct to fine an unlicensed barber for displaying a barber pole outside his businesses, a North Carolina appellate court ruled October 7 (Kindsgrab v. North Carolina Barber Examiners).

Following an investigation and hearing in 2012, the North Carolina Barber Examiners board fined Hans Kindsgrab $1,000 for having barber poles outside two of his establishments since they only held a Cosmetic Arts Licene issued by the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, a “separate bureaucratic agency” from the N.C. Board of Barber Examiners. The board also ordered Kindsgrab to pay the board an additional $1,650 for attorney and staff fees.

The court ruled that the board’s imposed fines were rightfully assessed since a barber permit did not exist for the business. As a result, Kindsgrab was not allowed to display a barber pole or advertise his barber services.

Kindsgrab argued that since he did not possess a barber license, he could not be subject to any disciplinary action by the board and that it would be unconstitutional for the board to discipline him. The court, however, disagreed, noting that the North Carolina statute reveals “no indication that the imposition of civil penalties is limited solely to licensees.”

The Court ruled that the board will find that an individual or entity is guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation for: (a) Operating or attempting to operate a barbershop without a permit; (b) Advertising barbering services unless the establishment and personnel employed therein are licensed or permitted; (c) Using or displaying a barber pole for the purpose of offering barber services to the consuming public without a barbershop permit.

“We hold that the imposition of civil penalties on non-licensees is reasonably necessary for the board to serve its purpose of preventing non-licensees from engaging in the practice of barbering,” the Court ruled, “it is clear from the board rules that civil penalties may be assessed for violations by an ‘individual or entity,’ not just against those licensed by the board.”