L’Oreal Cosmetics was recently hit with a lawsuit by a former employee over allegations of racial discrimination and a toxic work environment. The former employee, Amanda Johnson, is an African American woman who worked as a marketing vice president for the cosmetic company. However, not long after starting her job with the company, she learned that there was an alleged ugly side to the company.
L’Oréal Cosmetics was recently hit with a lawsuit by a former employee over allegations of racial discrimination and a toxic work environment. The former employee, Amanda Johnson, is an African American woman who worked as a marketing vice president for the cosmetic company. However, not long after starting her job with the company, she learned that there was an alleged ugly side to the company.
According to her suit, Johnson witnessed “a male executive openly watching pornography during a business meeting; sex-fueled parties at luxury European hotels during work trips; and racist hostility from the highest levels of management.” Additionally, Johnson’s suit claims her boss, Dan Bethelmy-Rada would frequently show “favoritism toward young gay male employees during business trips,” and that Rada “publicly viewed pornography on his cell phone during a meeting with other executives, ignoring a presentation by one of her colleagues.” To make matters worse, Johnson also felt as though the company disrespected her because of her race. The suit states:
“Her knowledge and understanding of race in America and attendant cultural sensitivities allowed Matrix and Biolage to sidestep typical communications landmines, i.e., campaigns or projects that might not resonate with, or might even offend, an audience of Americans of color.”
Uncomfortable with what she was witnessing, she filed a complaint against Nicolas Krafft, a fellow vice president “whom she felt physically threatened her during a work trip to Europe.” The lawsuit states:
“Johnson confided in her coworkers; she told them she believed that Krafft had disrespected and threatened Johnson because she is black, stating, in sum and substance, ‘This is not the 1960s.’”
In response to her complaint, she was fired for what she believes was retaliation for voicing her complaints. Johnson believes her termination was an effort on L’Oreal’s part to try and hide “discriminatory and retaliatory motives for firing her.”
As a result of her treatment, Johnson’s suit is seeking monetary damages for the “earnings she would have received,” along with punitive and compensatory damages.
So how has L’Oreal responded to the allegations? Well, so far the company is maintaining that Johnson was not retaliated or discriminated against and issued the following statement regarding the matter:
“Amanda Johnson was fired for a pattern of unprofessional conduct that surfaced during her final months at the company, including what in our view was abusive and threatening behavior toward colleagues, serious lapses in judgment, and declining performance. After she was let go, Ms. Johnson raised some alarming allegations about her manager and certain co-workers through a lawyer. We took her allegations seriously and investigated them all with great care, as they had not been reported to Human Resources when she was with the company. We interviewed those at the company who would have been in a position to corroborate the alleged behaviors of her manager and co-workers, including those that Ms. Johnson identified as witnesses.”
Unsatisfied with the company’s response, Johnson’s attorneys issued the following reply:
“L’Oréal’s public response to Ms. Johnson’s complaint shows that the company holds underrepresented minorities to a different standard in all respects. L’Oréal again has wrongfully tried to discredit and punish the victim, an African-American woman, by choosing to accept a false version of events as told by a few white employees on its payroll. L’Oréal’s so-called ‘investigation’ conducted ‘with great care’ did not even include asking Ms. Johnson for her side of the story.”