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Can a male barbershop legally turn away female clients? Maybe not.

If a barbershop employee is trained only for male cuts, can they legally turn female clients away, despite being untrained? One state comes down hard on a barbershop for this very conundrum.

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We all have a niche, but is it legal?

Almost every specialty business has a target customer. Look at Curves, which is a gym that caters to women. Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas doesn’t allow women. Technically, they don’t even want women to enter the parking lot. Many elite salons provide spa services practically exclusively to women. One business in Washington, Pennsylvania catered to men, providing a unique barbershop where “guys” can come and get a beer and a haircut in a macho atmosphere.

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Barbiere, the business in question, came under fire for gender discrimination when a women complained to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. She made an appointment for herself to get a haircut. The stylist, a woman, refused, because she did not have the right equipment or training. Some reports indicate that Barbiere even offered to pay for a haircut at another salon.

The state fined the barbershop despite attempts to accommodate

After the complaint was made, a state investigator visited the shop and interviewed the owner, Johnny Interval. A $750 fine was assessed, and Interval plans on paying the fine out of respect for the law. He stated that he “wasn’t aware he was legally compelled to service both men and women.” According to the Barbiere website, Interval will be appealing the decision. He states, “Now my future is uncertain but my actions are not.”

The same information showed up on the Barbiere Facebook page, and judging by the comments he has a lot of support from men and women alike. Although this decision may not seem like it has much to do with your business, it should make you reexamine your own business model and make sure that you aren’t unknowingly discriminating.

The bottom line: it’s illegal to discriminate

Under federal law, it is illegal to discriminate based on sex, whether it’s against men or women. There are ways that businesses get around the statutes. For instance, in some jurisdictions, laws allow women-only gyms for a safe male-free environment to exercise. Private clubs have their own set of rules. Hooter’s had the attention of the EEOC in the late 1990s for only hiring women waitstaff. They got around the rule because of a rule called, “Bona Fide Occupational Qualification.”

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Know the rules for your business and avoid the headaches of gender discrimination.

#BarbershopLadies

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sherr L Washington

    August 11, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Good fellas barber shop will not cut my hair because I’m a female and they don’t cut black people hair.

  2. Gay Eddy

    November 6, 2021 at 7:22 am

    Ron’s Barber shop in Amherst Ohio refused to cut my hair because I am a woman. Both barbers were woman. I have been going to a barbershop for many many years because I don’t like how the stylist cut my hair. I am very upset. They also seem to be upset because my first name is gay

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