Author: Joseph Kellner

Ulta lays off corporate employees

Ulta Beauty laid off employees at its corporate headquarters and among its field management team yesterday as it works to reshape itself amid the ongoing pandemic. Spokeswoman Eileen Ziesemer declined to comment on the number of employees that were laid off but confirmed their last day was Jan. 12.

“While incredibly difficult, these decisions were made thoughtfully with a focus on resetting our corporate cost structure to operate more effectively and efficiently in the short-term as well as optimizing our enterprise capabilities to thrive in the long-term,” Ziesemer said in an email. “The associates leaving Ulta Beauty were of course treated with respect, compassion and support.” The layoffs hit roles across all corporate functions of the Chicago-area-based beauty chain, Ziesemer said.

It also eliminated open roles and reorganized some teams. She said the move expanded certain positions and “introduced a small number” of roles in investment areas. Like many retailers, Ulta has faced struggles during the pandemic. It closed its stores for seven or eight weeks during the shutdowns last spring, closed 19 stores permanently in the third quarter, and has eliminated jobs.

Makeup in particular has been a tricky category during the pandemic. Without excuses to leave the house, many have forgone wearing makeup for months. There are some bright spots, such as above-the-mask eye makeup, and pampering items, such as candles and bath products, executives said on Ulta’s earnings call last month. The shutdowns also drove traffic online. Ulta has 1,262 stores in the U.S., Ziesemer says. The company was founded in 1990. The company most recently reported its employment count before the pandemic. As of last February, Ulta employed about 18,000 full-time and 26,000 part-time workers, according to a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission from last March. Ziesemer said the total number of corporate associates laid off yesterday was a “meaningful, but relatively small number of our total associates.”

Nail, Hair and Skin Pros Sue California Gov. Newsom

The beauty industry joined restaurants in suing California Governor Newsom, requesting immediate and permanent reopening. The vast majority of the beauty industry is made up of women, first-generation immigrants and the LGBT community. Ten months after the Governor mandated salon closures, the state has failed to produce any “data and science” justifying the criminalization of the services of these state licensed professionals.

“Our small businesses, less financed and politically connected than multinational corporations, Hollywood and other so-called ‘essential businesses’, have become the go-to sacrificial lambs to the Covid gods,” said Professional Beauty Federation of California (PFBC) Counsel and Advocate Fred Jones. “This has been ruinous for thousands of our establishments and the livelihood of tens of thousands, without any justifiable basis.”

Lead counsel and high-profile LA attorney Mark Geragos commented: “What has become obvious is that the Governor and so called health officials never followed ‘science or data’ on closing down outdoor dining or capricious lock-downs of safe barbershops and beauty salons. Instead of following the science they followed the Lobbyists and allowed film companies to utilize hairstylists and makeup artists, while preventing the same services to be done in salons by the very same trained professionals. By definition this is ‘unequal treatment under the law’.”

“Cutting hair is a criminal act in only one State in the Union,” reminded PBFC President Ted Nelson. “Governor Newsom is arbitrarily and needlessly destroying the livelihoods of state licensed professionals who have the formal education and training to keep their clientele safe from infections, as the CDC has acknowledged. Shame on him!

Unilever Is In A Mess But Whats New

According to the 49-page case, TRESemmé Keratin Hair Smoothing Shampoo and TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Color Shampoo, made by defendants Unilever United States, Inc. and Conopco, Inc., contain a preservative called DMDM hydantoin, which is known to leach formaldehyde when it comes into contact with water.

Uh Oh!

Given formaldehyde is a “well-known human carcinogen” that can cause cancer and other harmful reactions when absorbed into the skin, Unilever’s use of DMDM hydantoin in the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth products is “an entirely unnecessary risk” since safer and natural alternatives exist, the lawsuit argues.

Nevertheless, the suit alleges, the defendants have failed to properly warn consumers of the risks associated with using such a strong chemical on their hair and have even gone so far as to claim the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth products are safe.

“Defendants continued to conceal the dangers of the Products by failing to appropriately and fully recall the Products, by continuing to claim the Products were safe when properly applied, and by failing to warn consumers of the dangers attendant to the Products’ use,” the complaint scathes.

The lawsuit alleges Unilever marketed its “Keratin Smooth” line of shampoos to women who “wanted smooth, shiny, manageable hair with no frizz.” Through online marketing and the products’ labeling, the defendants allegedly represented that the TRESemmé products contained keratin, a protein found naturally in hair, and would “deeply nourish,” “gently cleanse,” and “repair hair.”

According to the case, however, Unilever failed to warn consumers that a preservative named among the products’ ingredients has been known by the defendants to cause or contribute to hair loss and scalp irritation. The suit charges that nowhere on the products’ packaging or in advertising did Unilever warn customers of the risks of using DMDM hydantoin on their hair and scalp and instead claimed the shampoo was safe when properly applied.

The lawsuit explains that DMDM hydantoin is a formaldehyde donor, which is a class of preservatives added to water-containing cosmetics to prevent the growth of microorganisms through the release of small amounts of formaldehyde. According to the case, the defendants until recently used the chemical in their TRESemmé Keratin Smooth line since keratin is a protein—i.e., a food for microbes—and has a limited shelf life.

Per the complaint, the use of formaldehyde donors, and particularly DMDM hydantoin, in cosmetic products has been linked to the development of allergies, dermatitis, hair loss and even cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the suit says, considers DMDM hydantoin to be one of the top allergens “that cause the most allergic reactions from the use of cosmetic products,” especially since individuals can become more sensitive to the irritant over time. The case adds that irritation of the scalp is linked to hair brittleness and hair loss.

According to the suit, Unilever has known of the dangers associated with DMDM hydantoin for a decade or more given the chemical and several other ingredients were the subject of prior litigation against the company. Per the case, Unilever’s Suave Keratin Infusion product, which was advertised as formaldehyde-free, was recalled in 2012 following complaints of hair loss and scalp irritation. The lawsuit initiated against the company resulted in a $10.2 million settlement that was upheld by an appeals court in 2016, the suit says.

Though Unilever continued using DMDM hydantoin as a preservative and even publicly asserted that the chemical was safe for use in hair products, the company only recently reformulated its TRESemmé Keratin Smooth shampoos to replace DMDM hydantoin with other preservatives, the case avers.

Given the litigation against Unilever, not to mention the flood of consumer “horror stories,” some of which are cited in the lawsuit, the defendants should have been well aware of “the high potential for toxicity or allergic reaction” caused by use of the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth products, the lawsuit charges. Nevertheless, the company has allegedly “failed and continues to fail” to warn consumers about possible reactions and has even attempted to downplay or conceal the plethora of consumer complaints.

“Unilever continues to this day to advise consumers that these Products are safe to use as directed, without providing any disclosure concerning the complaints of hair loss and with no warnings regarding the hair loss that may result from their continued use,” the complaint reads. “Indeed, despite Unilever’s knowledge and awareness of hundreds if not thousands of complaints of significant hair loss and breakage caused by the Products, Unilever continues to claim the use of DMDM hydantoin it [sic] is safe and permits them to be sold to this day — without providing consumers with any revised warnings or disclosures.”

According to the suit, the defendants’ “reckless indifference” has allowed Unilever to realize “sizeable profits” at the expense of consumers.

This article was supplied by Class Action Claims.

Clean Beauty…or Dirty Business?

The “clean” beauty movement is picking up steam. Health-conscious consumers are paying more attention to ingredients applied to their bodies and are looking for products made without harmful chemicals. In response to the demand, some popular cosmetics companies are now offering so-called, “clean” beauty lines. Companies considering joining this trend should take into account the substantial legal risks.

A look at the food industry’s use of the adjectives like “natural”, “clean”, “simple,” and “wholesome” illustrates the kinds of risks the beauty industry may face. When consumers began paying more attention to ingredients, companies began marketing their products with these health driven adjectives. However, this led to a barrage of class action lawsuits for false advertising under state consumer protection laws as plaintiffs lawyers argued that the claims made on the front of the label did not match the ingredients on the back of the label.

The food industry started to use the word “clean” after the use of “natural” resulted in a barrage of consumer lawsuits. As it turned out, however, the alternative claim also resulted in consumer class action lawsuits. The theory behind these suits is that “clean” is just a synonym of “all-natural” and signifies to consumers the absence of any synthetic chemicals. Similarly, it is argued that “wholesome” and “simple” are misleading consumers as to the real nutritional value of food products. This is at best an idiosyncratic view, not backed by legitimate consumer evidence. However, merely making the allegation is sometimes sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, where the court must consider whether “no reasonable consumer” could share the plaintiff’s alleged interpretation.

Adding to the complexity is the difficulty of placing a sufficiently prominent and clear explanation, or definition, for such adjectives in an unavoidable location where the plaintiff cannot reasonably allege she failed to notice it. Courts have sometimes held that consumers need not be expected to turn around the bottle or package to read textual information on the back label before purchase.

We have seen false advertising claims creeping into the skincare industry as well, and this, coupled with the history of the food industry, should put the beauty industry on notice of the legal risks. For example, just last month, a lawsuit was filed in California State Court against the makers of Coppertone sunscreen. Prescott, et al. v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 5:20-cv-00102 (N.D. Cal. filed Jan. 3, 2020). The suit alleges that Coppertone deceived consumers by labeling certain sunscreens as “mineral-based” when in fact chemicals make up a significant portion of its active ingredients. The plaintiff’s theory is that the headline “mineral-based” claim suggests to consumers that the product protects skin from sun damage exclusively with minerals.

In the “all-or-nothing” world of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, any ingredient call-out or characterization creates legal peril by negative implication. If the label says “clean,” the product can contain no synthetic substances. If the label says “plant-based,” the product should not have any synthetic or animal components – even if trivial in amount. Plaintiffs are routinely sending products to labs for rote chromatographic analysis, and the tiniest detectable amounts of disfavored chemicals can trigger lawsuits. In California, the consumer protection laws include California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising law, and the Consumer Remedies Act. Companies making sales in California also need to be mindful of Proposition 65 which requires warning labels on products that contain any enumerated chemicals identified by the State to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.

Since there are no regulations mandating the definition of such descriptive terms on cosmetic labels, these definitions (e.g., “clean”) can vary from company to company. The beauty industry should heed caution when using “clean” beauty claims. In order to avoid consumer confusion— and ultimately litigation— companies should define “clean” in a way that they can, and do, meet, and that definition should be available at the point of sale.

JCPenney Is Closing Store’s

J.C. Penney continues to shrink as it tries to beat a path out of bankruptcy. The retailer is in Chapter 11 in part because of a huge lack of sales. A sign that the company was out-sized relative to a diminished customer base.

Following a comprehensive review of our retail footprint, JCPenney made the difficult decision to announce over 150 store closures. Liquidation sales at most closing store locations are now underway. In a hearing this week, an attorney for the retailer said that vendors are holding back inventory as they wait for a deal to be signed and closed.

JCPenney is trying to move forward on its proposed deal to sell its department store operations to Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

Sephora inside JCPenney is closed in liquidating stores. Sephora items purchased prior to Friday, June 12, 2020, may be returned throughout the entire liquidation sale at most closing stores. Dates may vary by location. Contact your local store for more details.

Most hair salons in closing stores will operate through mid-August, yet this is subject to change on a location-by-location basis. The company spent so much time over the past 10 years “re-branding” itself that it forgot about the most important piece…It’s associates working in the stores and the customers shopping in it. Sad state of affairs.

Their is zero support of managers from upper management. Your job security is based on weather or not the upper management likes you and when you ask for guidance you are basically told to figure it out yourself.

This company talks about training and promoting within the company. They will go outside the company to hire for a job that use associates within the salon. Very poor company on promoting the associates. Sad state of affairs for loyal employee’s of this company. But you will find out in the beauty industry it is all over like a virus, the way employee’s are taken advantage of. No benefits, lack of a living wage, no insurance etc. I hope they all find good employment.