The Third Department, over a dissent, determined the revocation of petitioner’s barber operator license and barber shop license was too severe a penalty for violating the state’s COVID-19 policy in early 2020. After the governor ordered barber shops closed due to COVID, petitioner opened his barber shop in his home in March 2020. He closed his home operation in May 2020 when he was hospitalized with COVID:
The Secretary is empowered to impose a range of penalties for a barber’s misconduct, with a reprimand being the least severe, then a fine of up to $500, then license suspension and, most seriously, license revocation (see General Business Law §§ 441 [a]; 443). As noted above, petitioner has been a licensed barber since 1963 and, before the proceedings at issue here, had a clean disciplinary record for nearly six decades. The ALJ found that petitioner “sincerely believed” that he was entitled to reopen his shop in March 2020 and was remorseful for having done so, as well as that he did not knowingly work while suffering from COVID-19. Further, although petitioner failed to operate in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines after he was permitted to reopen, it appears that such resulted from his lack of familiarity with the particulars of the guidelines, and it must be noted that those guidelines and other COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted by the time of the Secretary’s determination … . It is accordingly unclear how petitioner’s conduct during the COVID-19 emergency would pose an ongoing threat to the public that would warrant the maximum sanction of permanently barring him from performing the work he had otherwise done without incident for almost 60 years. “Under these circumstances, and considering petitioner’s otherwise unblemished record, revocation was too severe a penalty,” and we therefore “remit to [the Secretary] to impose a less severe penalty” … . Matter of Lalima v New York State Dept. of State, 2023 NY Slip Op 01121, Third Dept 3-2-23
Practice Point: Here revocation of petitioner’s barber licenses was deemed too severe a penalty. After the governor ordered barber shops closed in March 2020 due to COVID, petitioner continued cutting hair in his home.