Supporters cheer the opening on Tuesday, May 5, of Glamour Salon at 195 Liberty St. S.E. Owner Lindsey Graham said she opened in defiance of state restrictions to earn an income (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and state agencies engaged in “a scheme of harassment, intimidation, bullying and borderline extortion” against a Salem salon owner, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed by Keizer lawyer Ross Day on behalf of Lindsey Graham, the owner of Glamour Salon. The salon, located at 195 Liberty St. S.E., became a lightning rod for tensions over state orders that shut down much of the economy due to the Covid pandemic.
DOCUMENT: Lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown.
In May, Graham publicly reopened her salon. The move endeared her to critics of the state’s response to the pandemic. But she faces a $14,000 fine from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration for flouting the restrictions. Graham is contesting the fine.
Graham, a mother of three, later alleged in a press conference that Child Protective Services was sent to her home in retaliation. The agency wouldn’t comment specifically on the case but has insisted it wouldn’t launch an investigation against someone for not following the pandemic restrictions.
The Oregon Department of Human Services did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The governor's office declined to comment on pending litigation. Graham posted a video to Facebook saying she didn’t regret her actions and that all businesses are “essential.”
“I don’t want unemployment and I don’t want a measly stimulus check,” she said. “I want to work hard like I’ve always worked."
While there have been other legal challenges to the governor’s orders, Day said that his lawsuit centers on how Graham was denied due process. He said that business owners should have had a way to prove they could operate their business safely during the pandemic instead of being shut down.
The sharply worded complaint criticized the governor’s orders as “sudden, irrational, draconian, and irresponsible” and said that they threatened Oregonians’ livelihoods. It also states that the order was applied unevenly and that exceptions were made for cosmetology services in senior housing.
“While private business owners and their employees were forced to struggle through the government’s draconian edicts, the individual defendants named in this action remained comfortable, collecting a paycheck on the backs of the very people who were losing their jobs, careers and businesses,” reads the complaint. “Defendant Kate Brown even lives in a mansion paid for by the taxpayers of Oregon, at a time when thousands of Oregonians are unable to make rent or mortgage payments.”
The complaint said that Health Licensing Office threatened to impose civil penalties, including revoking Graham’s license, if she did not comply with the order. Citing Brown’s remarks that salon’s reopening was “unfortunate” and “irresponsible,” the complaint states that Graham became a target.
The child welfare investigation against Graham was based on a “complete and total fabrication” and relied on a report from someone who did not witness the alleged abuse, according to the complaint.
The complaint said that state government deliberately violated Graham’s constitutional right to earn a living and interfered with her right to raise her children.
The complaint asks the court to declare that Graham’s constitutional rights were violated and for a judgment totaling $200,000 or an amount to be proven at trial, as well as fees.
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Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.