A second lawsuit has been filed against Ulta Beauty, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff and her legal counsel are forming a class action lawsuit alleging that more than 100 other customers have been harmed by Ulta Beauty’s practices of accepting used products when returned by customers and placing it back on the shelf as new.
Ulta Beauty, Inc. is incorporated in Delaware, headquartered in Illinois, and has over 1,000 store locations in 48 states across the U.S. The beauty conglomerate markets itself as “the place for the true beauty enthusiast” and “the only [beauty retailer] to provide…prestige, mass and salon products and services.” However, recent allegations from former Ulta Beauty employees have potentially exposed a frightening internal practice of repackaging and reselling used products.
The claims in Kimberly Laura Smith-Brown v. Ulta Beauty, Inc. originated when a whistleblower took to Twitter to expose Ulta Beauty’s unsanitary practices. The twitter user, whose tweets are pictured directly in the complaint, allege that “whenever a customer would return a product, [employees] were told by managers to repackage/reseal the item and put it back on the shelf.” Tweets began flooding the internet from other Ulta Beauty employees in California, Washington, Texas, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio. All these employees reiterated the practice and gave their own experiences. The complaint alleges that makeup products including lip balm, lip gloss, lip eyeliner and liquid eyeliner were all repackaged and put back on the shelves with the other products, appearing to be new. Any unsuspecting customer would have no way of knowing whether or not the product had been formerly used. According to other social media posts and the complaint, supervisors at Ulta Beauty, Inc. have been aware of this “deceptive, unfair and unsanitary” internal practice for more than three years.
This plaintiff’s suit is seeking relief under the California Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code §17200. Jurisdiction is proper in federal court under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because at least one member of the class is diverse from the Delaware company and California is proper venue because of the plaintiff’s domicile. We can look forward to more information about this case, and hopefully a change in corporate policy. Read the full complaint filed here.
Submitted by Nikki Caruso, Legal Intern Spring 2018