Amanda Johnson, a Black woman and former marketing vice president for L’Oréal Cosmetics, is suing her former employer for racial discrimination and creating a toxic work environment, according to a report from The Daily Mail.
The suit states that “Johnson quickly learned the ugly truth about the beauty giant, including witnessing 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,” an excerpt from the suit reads.
Johnson claims she was fired in retaliation for filing a complaint against fellow vice president Nicolas Krafft, whom she felt physically threatened her during a work trip to Europe.
“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,’” the complaint states.
Rather than have her complaint addressed, Johnson was fired upon her return to work after vacation, believing L’Oréal tried to hide “discriminatory and retaliatory motives for firing her.”
She also accused her boss, Dan Bethelmy-Rada, of hosting “drunken parties” and of “showing favoritism toward young gay male employees during business trips.” The former exec also claims Rada publicly viewed pornography on his cellphone during a meeting with other executives, ignoring a presentation by one of her colleagues.
Despite her alleged treatment, Johnson believes the company capitalized on her race while disrespecting her because of it.
“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,” the suit states.
She is suing for all earnings she would have received, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. L’Oreal addressed Johnson’s claims in a statement to The Daily Mail.
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.”
The company claims no one that they spoke with substantiated her claims, while adding they are an equal opportunity employer. Johnson’s attorneys replied with a statement of their own, published by Page Six.
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.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.