April 7, 2023
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – A former Sephora employee has filed a lawsuit against the beauty company after being terminated last year. Ashna Kalra, the plaintiff, claims that she was fired after requesting religious exemption from the requirement to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kalra worked remotely as a marketing operations manager for Sephora in San Francisco for over a year, according to the lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court, County of San Francisco on July 5, 2022. Kalra states that she requested religious accommodation for vaccine exemption on multiple occasions in October and November 2021. After discussion, she claims that Sephora denied her request due to her “alleged dishonesty and… [the] undue hardship [the religious exemption from the vaccine] would have imposed on” Sephora.
According to the lawsuit, Kalra was subsequently fired in January 2022. She is suing Sephora for failure to provide reasonable accommodation under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, along with a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for failure to accommodate on the basis of religion. The lawsuit does not specify Kalra’s religious beliefs.
Sephora denies Kalra’s allegations. In its answer to the complaint, Sephora states that “[Kalra] could not have been accommodated without endangering [the] health or safety [of herself or others].” It claims that any “decisions relating to [Kalra’s] employment were taken for legitimate, non-discriminatory, and lawful business reasons having nothing to do with [her] religious beliefs.”
Kalra is suing Sephora for past and future loss of wages due to her termination, legal fees, and damages for emotional distress.
Both parties met in February 2023 for a mediation session, but according to legal documents, the case did not settle. Arkady Iktin, the lawyer representing Kalra, told The Click that the parties did not settle because they “were too far apart in terms of settlement expectation.” Kalra and Sephora will move forward with depositions and continue negotiations.
The Click contacted Sephora’s lawyer for comment on this lawsuit and has yet to receive a response.