Raleigh law firm threatens to sue the state if hair salons don’t reopen Monday

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A Raleigh law firm is threatening to sue the state unless hair salons are allowed to reopen Monday.

“People have the inalienable right to earn a living,” wrote attorney Chuck Kitchen in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper dated May 13.

Kitchen, reached by phone, believes the shutdown violates the state’s constitution which guarantees citizens the right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“I know we’re ready to get back to work,” said Kenna Ehman, who co-owns Kenna Kunijo Salon in South End, where chairs have sat empty for nearly two months.

“Oh gosh, I don’t even want to think about it because it makes me want to cry,” said Ehman, covering her face, when asked how much money she has lost. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Ehman says she has had to furlough her 17 employees. She applied for and received a $50,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan which has allowed her to keep her employees.

“We were told it would cover 8-12 weeks of our payroll,” she said. “And, it is nowhere near 8-12 weeks of what our payroll is.”

Ehman does not have an opinion on the lawsuit but wants to open her doors, safely, as soon as she can.

“You can’t tell me that somebody making my food that I’m going to eat is any safer than me cutting somebody’s hair. That’s just how I feel,” said Ehman. “Whether we tear the Band-Aid off now, or in six years we reopen, the reality is coronavirus is never going to be gone until there’s a vaccine. So, what are we supposed to do until then? Just, like, let our economy dwindle down?”

Salons are included in Phase Two of North Carolina’s reopening, which could happen as early as May 22. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Congress this week about the danger of states reopening too soon.

Ehman says she wants to cut hair, not her staff.

“So this has been a big financial struggle for you?,” asked FOX 46 reporter Matt Grant.

“Oh my God, yes,” said Ehman. “It’s like starting over, but worse.”


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