Salem Salon Owner Who Defied Stay-Home Order Hit With $14,000 Fine

“I feel persecuted by Kate Brown herself,” the salon owner said.

A potest at the Oregon Capitol on May 2. (Aaron Wessling)

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health issued a $14,000 fine to Lindsey Graham, owner of Glamor Salon in Salem, for reopening her salon May 5 in defiance of Gov. Kate Brown's stay-home order.

Aaron Corvin, a spokesman for Oregon OSHA, confirmed the $14,000 fine to WW. The agency says Graham is endangering her workers.

"She is unquestionably operating in violation of the governor's executive order, designed to protect workers and the public," Corvin told WW. "The penalty reflects both the nature of the violation and the employer's willful decision to violate the law."

Graham has for the past week been defying the governor's stay-home order, in an effort bolstered by right-wing figures, including Vancouver, Wash.-based protest organizer Joey Gibson.

"I'm being threatened and intimidated and bullied daily by the government," Graham said during a press conference Friday. "I'm sad that I can drive 20 minutes down the freeway, and that person's job as a hairstylist is essential, according to Kate Brown. But my job, 20 minutes up the street, is nonessential."

Thirty-one counties today were allowed to enter Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan. This means dine-in services, as well as personal care services like barber shops and nail salons, are allowed to reopen.

Marion County isn't among the counties allowed to start reopening—because its COVID-19 hospitalizations are going up, rather than down.

Graham said during Friday's press conference that OSHA "illegally deemed" the Glamour Salon hairdressers as employees rather than independent contractors (OSHA does not have jurisdiction over the latter).

"Not everyone whose employer refers to them as an independent contractor actually falls outside our jurisdiction," Corvin said. "Based on the findings of our inspection, at least some of those working at the salon qualify as employees under the Oregon Safe Employment Act, and we have acted accordingly."

Graham has received an outpouring of support, including from Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson, who called on more demonstrators to join a May 6 protest in support of the salon.

Need as many people down at Glamour Salon ASAP in Salem. Police said they are going to begin arresting people for gathering.

Posted by Joey Gibson on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Graham created a GoFundMe campaign to pay for legal fees, and contributions to the page continued to spike on Friday as news spread of the OSHA fine, which the Salem Statesman Journal first reported.

At press time, the campaign had raised over $23,000 from 352 donors.

"I don't want anyone to get sick. I know you guys don't want anyone to get sick," Graham said. "But I also don't want to go bankrupt and lose everything I worked for and neither do you."

Graham said Friday the salon opened May 5 so that she and the other 23 hairdressers who work in her salon could earn a living for their families.

She also claimed that Child Protective Services had visited her house and questioned her child. "I've never expected such a violent, aggressive, vindictive thing could ever be done to me or my family," she said, "because I'm trying to earn a living, because I'm trying to work."

Department of Human Services spokesman Jake Sutherland said the agency is unable to comment on whether the visit occurred, due to confidentiality laws.

"I want to stress, however, that not following Gov. Brown's Stay Home, Save Lives executive order or not following physical distancing guidelines would never be a reason to assign a CPS assessment," Sutherland said.

Graham said that OSHA told her she will have three days to close down her salon after receiving the $14,000 fine, and that if she does not comply, she will receive another citation.

For now, Graham plans to keep the salon open.

"I'm vowing to stay open as long as I can until the government tries to take away basically my entire career, something I've worked 15 years for, out from underneath me," Graham said. "I feel persecuted by Kate Brown herself because she's governing these agencies and she's allowing them to target me if not requesting them to target me."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.