A former employee of a Chatsworth beauty product development and marketing company is suing the firm, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2020 after contracting the coronavirus and told the reason was that she was “not a cultural fit.”
Christianne Brooks’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Integra Beauty Inc. alleges she was actually fired because the company believed she would disclose to a government agency that she had contracted the disease from her boss.
Her lawsuit claims include wrongful termination, retaliation, fraud, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices.
Brooks seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Tuesday. An Integra Beauty representative could not be immediately reached.
Integra Beauty hired Brooks, 57, as its executive creative director July 20 and said she had to work on site as a condition of her employment even though the coronavirus was in full force, the suit states.
“Plaintiff accepted the position because she viewed it as a unique opportunity to work with an exciting new company and because she assumed defendants had implemented all precautions necessary to ensure her own health and safety as well as the health and safety of defendants’ other employees,” the suit states.
Brooks reported directly to the company’s chief marketing officer and in late July she was directed to meet with him in a small conference room housed at the corporate headquarters, the suit states. Her boss did not wear a mask or take any other protective covering to protect her from COVID-19, according to the suit.
On Aug. 5, Integra Beauty scheduled a photo shoot for Aug. 11-12 and the chief operating officer told Brooks she had potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and should stay at home until the company tested her and other employees, the suit states.
By Aug. 7, Brooks started to feel sick and developed a fever, the suit states. The next day her symptoms escalated and she had trouble breathing.
For the next three weeks she had a fever, chills, acute fatigue, headaches, body aches, sore throat, respiratory problems, severe congestion, confusion and an inability to sleep, according to the suit.
After the company learned that Brooks had found out that her boss met with her in person shortly after he had been told of his COVID-19 diagnosis, Integra Beauty management believed she might disclose the information to a government agency, such as Cal/OSHA, the suit states.
Brooks also felt she was being blamed for the subsequent cancellation of the photo shoot even though she was home ill with the coronavirus, according to the suit.
On Oct. 2, Brooks was called into a meeting with human resources, where a representative told her she was being fired because she was “not a cultural fit,” the suit states.
As a result, Brooks lost her annual $175,000 salary and health insurance, the suit states. When she accepted the job at Integra Beauty she had declined more lucrative offers of work elsewhere, but by the time she was fired she could not obtain comparable employment due to the pandemic, the suit states.
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