Employee Lawsuit brought against Sephora for unpaid wages

Sephora is at the centre of an Employee Lawsuit after workers accused the retailer of failing to adequately compensate them for time spent going through security and applying make-up before a shift.

The lawsuit was brought against it in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, with a team of attorneys representing around 8,000 Sephora workers. The employees are asking the judge to grant class certification for the wage-and-hour lawsuit, according to a report by Top Class Actions.

However, despite Judge Karnow raising concerns that lack of solid evidence of the unpaid time spent in work could lead to liability issues, attorneys on the Sephora employee lawsuit countered that this lack of time logging was due to Sephora, which had a ‘duty to track’.

An attorney allegedly stated, “As far as liability goes, a lot of the claims involve time. You can’t allow an employer to avoid paying employees by virtue of the fact it didn’t track its time. That means an employee cannot prove his or her damages. If they had tracked time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Sephora workers were said to have provided evidence that they are expected to wear and maintain their make up as part of their duties, while the lawsuit also alleged the retailer failed to provide ample rest and meal breaks.

The beauty retailer is said to have started compensating workers an extra three minutes for security bag checks, a move that attorneys argue is an acknowledgement by Sephora that it had been failing to do this previously.

Frédéric Fekkai Buys Back His Brand

Frédéric Fekkai, in partnership with Cornell Capital LLC, has taken back the brand he started by acquiring Frédéric Fekkai Brands.

Fekkai Brands creates hair and body care products, including shampoos, conditioners, treatments, hair fragrances and styling products. Additionally, the company owns and operates a number of salons across the US.

Fekkai, who founded his namesake brand in 1996, sold it in 2008 to Procter & Gamble. P&G then sold the brand in 2015 to a joint venture formed between the CEOs of Designer Parfums and Luxe Brands.  The ownership group selling off the company includes Dilesh Mehta, Tony Bajaj, Joel Ronkin and Amy Sachs

Blue Mistral LLC, a holding company founded by Fekkai and Cornell Capital, will own and operate Fekkai Brands together with Bastide, a fast-growing Provence-based provider of luxury fragrances and hand and body care products that Fekkai has led since 2017. As CEO of Blue Mistral, Fekkai will further accelerate the growth of the Fekkai Brands and salons by placing a heightened emphasis on education, innovation and the customer’s overall experience while leveraging opportunities for collaboration with Bastide.

“I am thrilled to rejoin Fekkai Brands and eager to reconnect with the salons, teams and consumers,” said Fekkai. “This acquisition will provide me the opportunity to reinfuse my passion for innovation into the brand, while reigniting its growth and guiding Fekkai Brands through its next chapter in a modern and exciting way.”

“The opportunity to partner with Frédéric, a proven entrepreneur in the beauty sector, as he returns to the helm of his iconic brand is truly compelling,” said Henry Cornell, senior partner of Cornell Capital. “Leveraging Cornell Capital’s cross-border network and operational expertise, and Frédéric’s deep relationships and reputation within the industry, Fekkai Brands is well-positioned to succeed in the growing global cosmetics and personal care industry.”

Ronkin, exiting CEO of Fekkai Brands added, “Frédéric is an accomplished entrepreneur with a proven track record of building highly desirable brands. We are confident that his return to the Company will be instrumental in fueling its growth and driving innovation.”

Salon Product Ingredient Disclosure Bill Is Now Law In California

 

Salon workers, who are overwhelmingly women, are exposed to a broad array of very toxic chemicals in the nail, hair, and beauty products they work with every day. They usually don’t have access to information about the toxicity of these products because professional beauty product ingredients aren’t required by law to be labeled.

The California Professional Cosmetics Labeling Requirements Act (AB 2775) co-sponsored by BCPP requires an ingredients list on professional cosmetic product labels. This bill gives nail, hair and beauty salon workers vital information about the chemicals they are exposed to day in and day out.  On May 30, 2018 AB 2775 passed the CA State Assembly with unanimous bi-partisan support (76 to 0).  On August 24, 2018 the bill passed the CA State Senate again with overwhelming bi-partisan support.  California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2775 into law September 14, 2018.

Nail and hair salon workers, who are overwhelmingly women, are exposed to dangerous chemicals in hair dyes, straighteners and relaxers, make-up and nail products. In California, this means nearly a half million licensed nail and hair salon workers are exposed to chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, phosphates, and other chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, respiratory, and neurological harm every day.  Several studies have found elevated rates of breast cancer among hairdressers and cosmetologists. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists “occupational exposures as a hairdresser or barber” as a probable carcinogen[1]. Studies show hair dressers experience an increased risk of miscarriage, giving birth to low birth weight babies, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Nail salon workers suffer negative impacts to maternal and fetal health as well as respiratory harm.  Currently, manufacturers must list ingredients on the labels of cosmetics sold at the retail level—this is good for the people who sell, buy, and use those products. However, the ingredients in professional cosmetics do not have to be listed on product labels. This lack of transparency makes it impossible for beauty professionals to make informed choices about the products they use and how to protect their health.

 

California Assembly Bill 2775 (CA AB 2775) gives salon workers the information they need to protect their health.  While federal regulation requires the labeling of ingredients in beauty and personal care products marketed to consumers and sold in retail settings, there is no equivalent disclosure requirement for products used in professional salon settings including nail, hair and beauty salons. This lack of transparency prevents salon professionals from getting the information they need to protect themselves and their clients from unsafe chemical exposures.  Introduced by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, AB 2775 requires manufacturers of professional cosmetic products sold in California to provide a full list of ingredients on products starting July 1, 2020, excluding fragrance and colorants.  BCPP co-sponsored California Assembly Bill 2775, introduced by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, along with Black Women for Wellness, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and Women’s Voices for the Earth.  The bill has broad based support from nearly 3 dozen leading NGOs including American Cancer Society Action Network, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, NRDC, Clean Water Action, and Consumer Federation of California. AB 2775 also has the support of various industry trade associations and a leading multinational cosmetics company including the Personal Care Products Council, the Professional Beauty Association, California Chamber of Commerce, and Unilever.

How Beauty Products Are Sold: Part One

Customers don’t know very much about how beauty retailers sell them products. The process by which a lipstick goes from factory to store to you is pretty opaque. Sure, we know conceptually that beauty has high margins and a big markup. But while newer brands like The Ordinary and Beauty Pie have started to offer a bit of transparency into pricing and how brands are ultimately made available to consumers, there is still a lot of mystery baked into the process.

The recent apparent shuttering of an indie beauty brand and its lawsuit against Sephora helps shed some light on how truly complex it is to sell beauty products — and the costs that get passed on to shoppers.

A few weeks ago, the beloved indie makeup brand Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC) abruptly shuttered its website, its New York City store, and all its social media accounts. While the brand has not made any official statement and none of its third-party retailers like Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters have confirmed anything, it’s widely assumed that the brand has gone out of business. Founder David Klasfeld seems to have started a new Instagram account under the handle @dkwmakeup, and notes in the bio: “I founded and ran the world’s first 100% Vegan & Cruelty-Free Cosmetics line from 2004-2018.” (Racked has reached out again to OCC and will update if we hear back.)

If this is the case, what happened? The only person who knows for sure at this point is the founder of OCC, but a lawsuit with Sephora dating back to 2015, may provide some clues. It also sheds some light on things like who actually is responsible for building and filling the product testing fixtures you find in stores, what large markdowns mean for a brand, and how store exclusivity works.

There are two legal documents publicly accessible, one from 2015, first published by blogger Zadidoll, and one from 2016. These provide an incomplete record of the full proceedings, and it’s unclear if Sephora and OCC settled this case or what the final outcome was. But what is clear is that retailers hold a lot of the cards and OCC probably lost a lot of money. A representative for Sephora sent the following statement to Racked: “Per company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation.

The terms of a Sephora contract

According to the 2016 order, OCC and Sephora signed a contract in 2012 stating that the retailer would sell the brand’s products and that OCC would be 100 percent responsible for the costs of the fixtures, which is the system of shelving and pigeonholes where testers and products for sale are displayed in the store. They can vary in size from a small box on a shelf to an aisle-long behemoth. Per industry sources, this is a pretty common arrangement. (More on what those fixtures cost in a bit. Hint: a lot.)  OCC then alleged in the suit that it entered into a verbal agreement with Sephora to alter the original contract in two ways: first, that Sephora would become OCC’s exclusive brick-and-mortar retailer with the understanding that it would place enough orders to make up for the ones OCC would have to decline from other retailers. Second, Sephora was supposedly going to help defray the costs of the fixtures by contributing 50 percent, since it supposedly wanted to increase the number of stores selling OCC, which would then necessitate building more fixtures. OCC alleged in the suit that Sephora reneged on these oral agreements by not placing more orders and not helping to pay for fixtures. Sephora argued that it was a moot point because the original contract stipulated that the contract could only be modified in writing and therefore the suit should be thrown out.

However, the judge ruled that OCC could continue pursuing it, because he determined that OCC had acted in such a way (turning down orders from other retailers, for example) that made it seem clear that OCC relied on Sephora’s verbal statements. (He threw out a fraud allegation that OCC made about Sephora, however.) Sephora was given 20 days to serve an answer, but the conclusion or settlement does not appear to have been made public.

But that’s not the full story. An earlier 2015 order details exactly how much money OCC stood to lose in the Sephora deal. Sephora wrote a letter to OCC to terminate the deal in 2015, stating it would sell the products it had until a certain date, while also requesting OCC to fulfill two outstanding purchase orders that OCC hadn’t shipped yet. After the date in the termination letter, Sephora expected OCC to take back leftover product (this is called a return-to-vendor, or RTV, clause) and reimburse Sephora for the unsold product. The bottom line? Sephora said it expected to be reimbursed $832,700 for the unsold products. Otherwise, it allegedly said it would liquidate its remaining stock at fire-sale prices. OCC asked for a preliminary injunction, arguing that “if provisional relief is not granted it will suffer irreparable harm because an immediate mark down of the outstanding inventory would have financially devastating effects and moot any award of damages.” According to the lawsuit, OCC never reimbursed Sephora for remaining stock, and Sephora did end up marking down the remaining products and selling them off quickly, according to Revelist. Ultimately, OCC claimed damages of $521,647.20. This is where the paper trail ends.

PART TWO COMING NEXT WEEK

FDA Investigates Multi State Outbreak (Recall List)

The FDA is advising health professionals and consumers to avoid using products that have been recalled by Shadow Holdings dba Bocchi Laboratories as they might be contaminated with bacteria within the Burkholderia cepacia complex, also commonly called Bcc. The FDA is investigating whether other products manufactured by Shadow Holdings dba Bocchi Laboratories may be contaminated with Bcc and present a risk to consumers. The FDA is currently advising health professionals and consumers to avoid using products that have been recalled by Shadow Holdings dba Bocchi Laboratories, as these products may be contaminated with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc). The FDA is particularly concerned about potential contamination in recalled lots of Medline Remedy Essentials No-Rinse Cleansing Foam, since laboratory analysis by the FDA confirmed that samples of this product contained Bcc matches Bcc isolates collected from the Shadow Holdings dba Bocchi Laboratories facility and from ill persons. The matches were detected by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), a type of DNA fingerprinting. Shadow Holdings dba Bocchi Laboratories has recalled other products made in the same location.

Current Recalls

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls Eufora BEAUTIFYING ELIXIR BODIFYING CONDITIONER, 1.7 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls Eufora BEAUTIFYING ELIXIR BODIFYING CONDITIONER, 1.7 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls Eufora NOURISH HYDRATING SHAMPOO, 8.45 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls John Paul Mitchell NEURO REPAIR HEAT CONTROL BLOWOUT PRIMER, 0.85 oz. and 4.7 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls John Paul Mitchell INVISIBLEWEAR MEMORY SHAPER, 8.5 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls John Paul Mitchell SUPER SCULPT GLAZE, 8.5 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls John Paul Mitchell NEURO LATHER HEAT CONTROL SHAMPOO, 9.2 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls John Paul Mitchell NEURO LATHER HEAT CONTROL CONDITIONER, 9.2 oz. due to potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc.). FDA has confirmed the presence of the bacteria in some lots of foaming cleanser.

Shadow Holdings DBA Bocchi Labs recalls Medline Remedy Essentials No Rinse Foaming Cleanser: No Rinse Foam; CHG Compatible, pH balanced, Fragrance Free – for all ages 4oz (MSC092FBC04): 24 bottles/case; 8oz bottles (MSC092FBC08): 12 bottles/case; Ingredient: Water, TEA-Lauryl Sulfate, Aloe Barbadenis, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Lacitylate, Iodopropronyl, Butylcarbamate, DMDM Hydanton Triethanolamine, Citric Acid. Manufactured for Medline Industries, Inc. Northfield, IL www.Medline.com; Item number MSC092FBC04; lots M06691, M07247 ; Item number MSC092FBC08; lots M05703 and M06691, due to  potential contamination with Burkholderia cepacia.

Avlon Industries, Inc recalls KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo—Sulfate-free, 8 oz., and gallons; 8 oz.-12 bottles/case; gallons-4 per case; UPC 9670838012, Item #53227; UPC: 9670833053, Item #53943 (Lot 16G1503 and Lot 16K3I03) due to the presence of Enterobacter cloacae.

The resources listed below are related to recalls of cosmetics and other products regulated by FDA, as well as other safety alerts related to cosmetics. To learn about FDA’s role in recalls of cosmetics, see FDA Recall Policy for Cosmetics.

 

The Value of Cosmetology Licensing

 All cosmetologists, barbers, manicurists, skin care specialists and makeup artists in America are trained and licensed beauty professionals from accredited cosmetology schools. Professional beauty programs offer courses to teach individuals skill sets to enhance clients’ appearances hair, nails, skin, and makeup and maintain a safe salon environment.
One of the most valuable features of all professional beauty programs ,from a comprehensive cosmetology program to a shorter nail technology program, is safety and sanitation training to minimize the transfer of infectious diseases and risk of accidents for clients. Upon completing their training, students who pass their exams are awarded certificates and licenses to work in hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and other personal care service facilities. Currently, professional beauty licenses are set and administered by state offices and the requirements vary from state to state and specialty to specialty.
Among the various disciplines with in the beauty industry, cosmetologists and barbers usually undertake the most comprehensive programs that cover multiple teachings and skills from safety, sanitation and technical skills to customer and business management skills.  Full time programs in cosmetology and barbering range from 9 to 24 months and can lead to associate’s degrees in cosmetology. Professional cosmetology schools also offer shorter, more affordable programs such as nail treatment, skin care and hair styling designed to teach specific skills to work in the beauty industry. Upon completion of study, beauty professionals take exams to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and capabilities required to perform their jobs. After passing required exams they are awarded with certificates and licenses to work at hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, nursing facilities and performance art centers.
Registered professionals are proven to be accountable for the benefit of the consumer. Professional beauty licensing is an essential component to the health of America’s economy and to the health of its citizens. Beauty professionals touch nearly all Americans across every demographic in large and small communities. These professionals acquire their special skills to provide safe, high quality services to their clients through extensive training, certification and licensing. The professional beauty industry is a critical element in America’s economic landscape and professional beauty licensing is an essential component to the overall health of American consumers and beauty professionals.
Ultimately, licensing of beauty professionals supports an industry of over 2.2 million workers who earn $31.6 billion in wages and contribute $85.8 billion in goods and services to the U.S. economy. The beauty industry is dominated by small businesses, self-employed individuals and exemplifies gender and ethnic diversity. The beauty industry touches almost every American in large and small communities. These trained professionals attend accredited institutions to acquire special skill sets, including hair, nail, skin treatments, business management, sanitation, hygiene, human anatomy, and infection control to provide safe and high quality services for their clients. As with other professional education programs, participants have to pass standardized course exams to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to perform their skills in the marketplace.
With a higher level of training, beauty professionals are able to earn higher wages. Licensing safe and well-trained beauty service providers protect customers from unqualified beauty workers. To ensure consistency from state to state, industry professionals are pushing to harmonize the requirements and  processes to obtain professional beauty licensees to strengthen safety, remove barriers and ensure economic performance of the industry.

Is Ulta Repackaging and Reselling Used Makeup to Consumers? A New Lawsuit Says Yes

A new lawsuit filed in Chicago last week alleges that beauty giant Ulta has been repackaging and reselling used makeup to its unsuspecting customers for years.

Attorney Zimmerman represents Meghan Devries, a Chicago woman who works in the beauty industry. She became suspicious about some of the products she purchased from Ulta.  A woman claiming to be a former Ulta employee first brought the allegations to light in early January. Posting under the Twitter handle @fatinamxo, she wrote that whenever a customer returned a product, employees were instructed by Ulta to repackage or reseal the item and put it back on the shelf for sale. This practice, she said, included everything from makeup to hair and skin-care products, fragrances and hair styling tools.

She said that makeup palettes, for example, were cleaned up so that they looked new and returned to the shelf for reselling, unsanitized. She then shared screenshots of other Ulta employees making the same claims. Those tweets were cited in the class action complaint (pdf) Zimmerman filed in Cook County, Ill., last week. The suit also cites the claims of former employees that Ulta has a limit on how many returned items can be thrown away. “Managers will take used products out of a damaged bin, and if they look good enough to resell, they’ll put them back on the shelves and resell them so they don’t exceed their quota,” Zimmerman told ABC7.

He said that some of the products purchased from an Ulta store on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago seemed to have been previously used, including eye shadows missing a brush and face cleansers that were already open. Those products, he said, could have pathogens on them that remain for weeks. “There is E. coli and Klebsiella bacteria, which is commonly found in intestine and expelled with fecal matter,” Zimmerman said.  Zimmerman told ABC7 that the goal of his lawsuit is to change the alleged company practice that limits the number of items that can be thrown away, as well as to provide compensation for customers who may have bought used products.