AASM (Ask A Salon Manager) posts are Q&A posts. To submit your question, comment below!
“Can a salon owner decide who my clients are? For example, if she doesn’t like someone, can she tell me they’re not welcome in the salon?”
This depends upon your employment status and whether the salon owner’s reason for refusing the client constitutes discrimination or not.
If you’re a renter, then you’re a commercial tenant operating your own independent business. In that arrangement, the salon owner functions as your landlord and generally cannot dictate how you conduct your business or with whom. Unless the client poses a risk to other people within the building or behaves in a significantly disruptive way, a landlord doesn’t have a say in who you service.
If you’re an employee, the business owner can absolutely dictate to you—not just who you’re permitted to service as an employee of her business, but what products you use, what you wear, what you do, and how you do it. They have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time—as long as they’re not discriminating against a protected class.
when does a salon owner cross the line from “right to refuse service” to “civil rights violation?”
Whenever a client gets turned away based on their race, color, religion, national origin, disability—and in many jurisdictions now (and hopefully soon on a federal level with the recently proposed Full Equality Act of 2015)—sexual orientation and gender identity. The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law, which means all US states must comply. It prohibits discrimination by privately owned “places of public accommodation.”
Discrimination aside, the owner of an employee-based establishment may refuse service to anyone if they have a specific reason to refuse service. That refusal must be consistent, meaning that the policy must apply to everyone.
Generally, business owners do not like to turn away customers. Money is money, regardless of whose wallet it comes from, but in salons you often see refusal of service for one of the following reasons:
- Disruptive: Guests who are too loud or boisterous are often asked not to return, since they disrupt the atmosphere for the other clients in the salon. It’s not unreasonable to require clients to respect the space by keeping their volume down.
- Under the Influence: Obviously, anyone under the influence doesn’t belong in the salon…for multiple reasons.
- Sexual Impropriety: Whether they’re dressing or behaving overtly sexual or propositioning the employees for sex, this has to be our #1 reason to boot out a customer. If I had a nickle for every time I reprimand or dismiss a client for something of this nature, I’d have probably $0.65—that’s a lot of nickles. (Related side note: Is it really that difficult to wear underwear when you come to get a pedicure, ladies, especially when you’re wearing a skirt?! Please don’t make it weird.)
- Aggressive/Unfriendly/Disrespectful: Can a salon owner dismiss a client for being rude? You bet.
- Ineligible for Services: Any client who presents a disorder or condition that makes them ineligible for services legally must be dismissed. Responsible salon owners will never allow their employees to operate outside of their scope of practice.
If the salon owner simply “doesn’t like” the client on a personal level (for instance, if the client happens to be an ex-high school rival), I’d argue that they need to grow up and move on. She certainly doesn’t need to be putting the professionals in the middle of her personal issues with another person by making it your job to communicate to the client that they’re unwelcome in the establishment. Holding grudges against others and behaving in such an emotionally immature way will only hurt her in the long run, and she really shouldn’t be punishing herself like that.
So, there you have it. Have you ever had to dismiss a client? Tell us below in the comments!