[AASM] My boss pressures me to work outside my scope of practice.


“A few weeks ago, I had to refer a client to a podiatrist. My boss saw me with her at the desk, writing the name and number of the doctor I recommend on the back of one of our business cards. She pulled the card from me and told me to do the service. The client agreed with me and said she appreciated my professionalism, but the owner basically dragged her back to the chair and insisted I was being ‘ridiculous.’

Later, the owner told me I was unprofessional and that I should never ‘send money walking out the door’ and that if I didn’t like feet, I shouldn’t be a nail tech.

I have no problem with feet! I’m not even grossed out by abnormalities. I just want to protect the clients and my license. I explained to her that we’re not permitted to take clients with any abnormalities, and even showed her where the regulations state that. She was angry with me and said she didn’t care. She said if I ‘pull that shit again,’ I’ll be ‘sent packing.’ What do I do?”

Fire her. Report her. See it through. Find another job.

A salon owner with an attitude like that is a public health menace. She’s endangering the wellness of the clients (or as she likes to call them, her “money”). No amount of discussion will get someone who sees people as nothing more than walking dollar signs to understand how irresponsible and inconsiderate they’re being.

Any salon owner who treats their employees the way she treated you is not worth risking your license for.

Her attitude towards people sickens me as much as her disregard for their personal welfare.

I suspect there’s some racism and salon classism going on here also. Your salon owner is Caucasian. Not only are you are the only Vietnamese employee, you’re the only nail technician. (You’ll notice I cleaned the submission up a bit. I can tell based on your syntax that you’re not a native English speaker.)

Unless she treats everyone like trash, she likely considers you a second-class citizen in the salon for one or more reasons. She may have racial prejudice, language prejudice, or a professional bias against nail technicians.

You’re not stupid just because you don’t speak English as fluently she does or because you’re part of a different ethnic group. You’re not any less of a professional if you don’t generate as much income as her stylists. You’re not any less deserving of respect than anyone else. However, she’s proven through her actions that she isn’t deserving of yours.

Take a stand, then walk out.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


  1. I’m a licensed esthetician and makeup artist and as of yesterday I’ve finally decided to leave the industry for good. I’ve had too many bad experiences. I’ve finally decided to go back to college.

    I’m working on a blog writing about my experiences. I guess it’s sort of like your blog except it’s from an esthetician/makeup artist perspective.

    I love your blog and your book. Keep up the good work. I know it helps a lot of people.

    • Thanks! It sucks that you had to leave, but you know, some of the best salon owners I know are ones who were fed up with the industry, left, and came back to create kick ass workplaces. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and become one of them somewhere down the road. 🙂

          • OMG! This is awesome! I’m mad it’s not October yet. (That’s the time of the year I post horror stories, and those two definitely qualify.)

            The photographer story–I’ve been there before. Creepy old man shows up to a shoot I organized with my MUA/partner-in-crime Cyn. We have twelve models ready to go. I’m doing my hair thing, she’s doing her makeup thing, and this creepy bastard is trying to get these girls to get naked in the next room. Telling them, “I have a magazine (Hot Babes Magazine–not a joke, he really had a web magazine with that title), and a sexy website. I could film you. Men would pay so much to see you.” He even tried to get me to agree to go to his house and let him “video tape” me. This guy was pushing eighty. I was so glad we were at Cyn’s house. I can’t imagine being alone with someone like that. 🙁

          • Thank you! I still have a few more articles I’m working on. I might post them later today.

            Well, I guess when October rolls around you can post my stories. I’d really like to get my stories out there because I think they could help educate people.

          • I completely agree. It’s so important for people to be cautious, particularly when professionals are working in fashion, doing shoots with random photographers.

          • Okay, I promise this is my last comment on here because I don’t mean to blow up your comment section, lol.

            But do you think that the instructor and director at my school should have done something about Mr. R? Or do you think it was out of their hands because he no longer attended the school?

          • Lol! Well, you have my email address. The last month I was overwhelmingly busy, but I usually respond to emails at least once a day, and Facebook several times a day, so fee free to contact me there. 🙂

          • Sorry, I was checking this on my phone and didn’t see the second half of the comment, lol. Personally, I’d have said something even if I knew it was out of my control, if for no other reason then to let him know that his behavior was unacceptable and that he wouldn’t be welcome back at the school, but other people suck, so it’s not surprising they didn’t.

  2. Another reason I recently left to a private suite of my own… Hopefully one day I can be a salon owner. I want to be different than all the owners I’ve worked for in the past 10 years. I hope she finds a better employer, she sounds like a great asset!

  3. The salon had a routine state board inspection yesterday and my unlicensed manager panicked trying to cause distractions and deflections. When the inspector asked her for her license and to sign the report, she refused stating she was only the money holder. Instead she told the inspector I was the manager and made me sign. I am so upset. How can she do this and get away with it? Isn’t that some kind of fraud?

    • YIKES! Well, typically, any time you lie to a public official it’s considered a big deal. Where the state board is concerned, it’ll likely result in nothing more than a fine, but still, that’s extremely inappropriate. I’m not sure what your liability is here, since you did sign the document (I’m guessing none, since it sounds as if your state just requires the signature of a license holder, which you are), but I’d be upset too. If the manager doesn’t meet the state board’s standards for salon managers, she has no business holding that position.

  4. I’ve been reading so much of your blog lately. A little over a year ago I started working for a lash studio after leaving a chain that wasnt benefitting me financially. The new studio came with a large commission rate and the possibility of training for new services. Over the last few months she has been making me do services out of my scope of practice. The promised training has been lackluster with a “I’ll show you once” attitude. Whenever I express my concern and discomfort I’m then told I’m replaceable. If I’ve never performed a service before, I dont think its appropriate I do it on a paying client. I love my lash clients, but the other services I’m not familiar with, make me uneasy.

    • I’m sure you’re probably already doing so, but if I were you, I’d be looking for another workplace. You might be replaceable, but doing so would be expensive for the owner. I’d remind her of that. If they want you to stick around long enough for their weak attempt at investing in you to pay off, they better change their attitude. That said, I think it’s unlikely that they will. People who treat employees that way don’t deserve them.

  5. Thank you so much for replying. I’m currently looking into starting my own business, but my family & I will be moving in a year, so I’m thinking I should take time off and focus on what I need to do to begin it the right way. Talking to her wouldn’t change anything, her professionalism is nonexistent to the staff & to clients alike. I have a good following but I worry about retaliation.

    • It’s a valid thing to worry about. I’m sorry you have to continue dealing with it–but look on the bright side–at most, you have another year of this, and that’s plenty of time to refine your business plan! 🙂


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