Cutting Out the Salon

Erin Cox, WTNH-TV (New Haven, Connecticut), January 23, 2009

Communicating with customers is important for hair salons and barber shops alike. But for shop workers, in Waterbury, a state code about language may pose a business barrier for some.

Have you ever tried to explain to a hair stylist how you wanted your hair cut and it still didn’t turn out right?

Now, it’s not the style but the language which could mean hair dressers and barbers are out of business.

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A new city process will now verify employees have a state license to cut hair; the one Rodriguez got in Florida doesn’t cut it. So, he’ll have to take the Connecticut test.

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The state requires barbers and hair stylists to pass the licensing test but the test is only given in English. And, half the men who work there would not be able to pass that test.

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There is now an effort to also administer the test in Spanish so that barber shops and salons catering to Latinos may stay open.

“We have a 40 percent Hispanic populatoin in Waterbury,” Torrent [Juan Torrent, translator] said. “We are not asking for minority treatment; we are just asking for something that is reasonable.”

There are 100 Spanish-speaking barbers and hairdressers in Waterbury. According to the Latino American Chamber of Commerce, other state’s do administer a similar test in Spanish.

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