A former national makeup artist for YSL Beauté has filed a discrimination lawsuit accusing the company of firing him because a heart condition forced him to pare his travel schedule.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 17, Joseph Costa alleges that the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it fired him in October 2007.
According to his complaint, Costa, 51, was a 14-year veteran of the company who traveled extensively for in-store marketing events and made regular appearances on QVC. In August 2004 he suffered a heart attack, from which he had to be resuscitated. Doctors later diagnosed him with coronary heart disease.
The makeup artist’s suit says that YSL management, including then-chief executive officer Maggie Ciafardini and then-vice president of retail sales and training Terese McDonald, agreed to facilitate a more reasonable schedule for him upon his return in February 2005. According to the suit, in the following two years, Costa worked under the new schedule, never heard a complaint and “was responsible for selling millions of dollars of YSL merchandise on QVC.”
Costa alleges that, after YSL replaced Ciafardini in March 2007 and McDonald subsequently left, the company’s new management team gave him a more strenuous travel and appearance schedule, despite his condition. After he felt ill at a store event in September 2007, Costa’s doctors recommended he rest and not resume full-time travel. Doctors later cleared him to return to work “as long as his schedule was reasonable.” Costa alleges that the company then fired him in a letter excerpted in his complaint.
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“Unfortunately, because you are unable to fulfill these essential functions of your position — frequent travel and regular participation in our clients’ and retailers’ events held nationally — we will need to terminate your employment effective October 29, 2007,” the company wrote.
Costa is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees.
YSL Beauté said it had no comment.