FASHION LAW: SEPHORA IN HOT WATER OVER DISCRIMINATION SUIT
Following suit of other retailers, cosmetics giant Sephora has been the latest to be hit with a discrimination lawsuit. The class action suit, filed last week in Manhattan federal court by four disgruntled consumers, asserts that the retailer deactivated their accounts because of their Asian surnames. Sephora, concerned that customers were buying products in bulk to resell at higher prices, blocked the online accounts of many customers with Asian names.
The suit fell on the heels of a promotional sale earlier this month that escalated in such great web traffic, it caused Sephora’s website to crash. According to the company, the crash was a result of a great number of bulk shoppers looking to take advantage of the sale to then resell for a profit.
As outlined in the suit, the only customers blocked from the site only hours after the initial crash were those with Asian names or email addresses originating from Chinese domains. It took only a few days after the crash for hundreds of Asian shoppers to take their feelings to social media. Facebook posts from unhappy customers complained about their inability to access their accounts. Some even took it further by claiming Sephora was downright racist.
Sephora denies any claim related to customer discrimination of any kind. One spokesperson at Sephora said, “We look forward to defending our actions in court. Among other points, we intend to make very clear that clients from a number of countries around the world have been impacted by a temporary block we needed to place on accounts in order to restore the functionality of our site during a surge of activity by resellers during a promotional event two weeks ago.”
The plaintiff’s in the case are seeking unspecified damages in addition to a court order barring Sephora from engaging in the alleged practice.