Just last week, four New York women of Asian American descent filed a class action suit against Sephora USA, Inc. and its parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Inc. for alleged racial discrimination sales practices in implementation of Sephora’s discount sales for its VIB and VIB Rouge customers.
The complaint claims that this past fall during the VIB and VIB Rouge sale, Sephora shut down its site due to what it perceived as an abnormal high influx of bulk sales for the purpose of reselling, mainly from its North American customers. The complaint further claims that after the site came back online, certain VIB and VIB Rouge customer accounts were deactivated, and that the accounts that were deactivated belonged to those of Chinese descent.
When I first saw the news headlines as first reported by Fashionista, I thought the complaint’s allegations vastly overreached. How could a site shut down lead to allegations of racial discrimination? But upon further research and actual reading the actual complaint (this is why one must read the actual filed document and not rely on news sources), I don’t think that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are totally off their rockers.
But still some questions linger: (1) Of all the deactivated accounts, were there any violations of Sephora’s VIB and VIB Rouge program that would give Sephora the right to deactivate said accounts; (2) Did the vast majority of deactivated accounts actually belong to Chinese customers; and (3) How many accounts that appear to belong to Chinese customers weren’t deactivated?
All the above questions are crucial in evaluating the strategy in litigating this case on both sides. Because as a Sephora VIB customer and a customer of Chinese descent (and/or appearing to be that of Asian descent), my account was not subject to deactivation.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on November 17, 2014. My titillated mind can’t wait to see what action will be taken next!