The BC Human Rights Tribunal has accepted a complaint from a Vancouver woman who says she was discriminated against by popular makeup boutique Sephora earlier this year, and a hearing has officially been set for July.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous at the time of our initial publication, said that due to several of her online Sephora orders going missing, the company revoked her online access and advised her that all future purchases would have to be made in-store. Unfortunately for the woman, due to ongoing chronic pain and other health issues that result in her being disabled, that was not a viable option, and despite explaining her situation to numerous Beauty Advisors and managers from Sephora, they were less than sympathetic. As a result, she now says her conditions have been exacerbated due to stress caused by the matter. To make matters worse, Sephora responded to the woman’s allegations by discriminating against her even further.
While some may question the validity of such claims, it is important to note that any discrimination that is deemed to have occurred on a number of protected grounds is eligible to be brought forth to the Tribunal. In this case, the woman made numerous attempts to find a solution to the problem that arose as a result of her being disabled, yet Sephora continually denied her of a service that other individuals are entitled to without adequately trying to find a solution. Whether it was intentional or not, that is discrimination, and is, in our opinion, the main reason why this woman will most likely win her case.
Discrimination requires certain standards to be met. First and foremost, there has to be adverse treatment. Secondly, the incident has to occur in the public arena (a business.) That being said, it is certainly arguable that Sephora gave the woman adverse treatment by forcing her to shop in-store, even though she reached out several times about her disability.
As for how the Tribunal will handle this, there are a few easy solutions: The most likely scenario will be that they demand her the right to continue to make online orders. However, to avoid future issues with shipments, something as simple as requiring a signature/ID upon delivery would be an easy fix to the problem.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this!