Estée Lauder fires employees using automated performance assessments

Occurred: March 2022

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Cosmetics company Estée Lauder agreed an out-of-court settlement with three make-up artists who were sacked after taking an automated job application assessment.

Having had to reapply for their positions, the women had their answers and expressions analysed by recruitment analysis software supplied by HireVue, with the results measured against other data about their job performance. Estée Lauder subsidiary MAC Cosmetics had not previously warned any of the three women of performance issues, leading them to conclude they had been unfairly treated and to begin legal proceedings against the company. 

Former MAC make-up artist Anthea Mairoudhiou later described losing her job as 'the end of the road of that career.' 'And, mentally it massively affected me. I felt very let down, and I thought I was going mad, she added. 

An Estée Lauder spokesman said 'In the situation described, facial recognition accounted for well under 1% (0.25%) of employees’ overall assessment. The company has teams who overlay objective performance-related data and other qualitative feedback, which accounted for the majority of the employment assessment, to make decisions on employment,' he added.

Operator: Estée Lauder/MAC Cosmetics
Developer: HireVue
Country: UK
Sector: Cosmetics
Purpose: Assess employee performance
Technology: Facial recognition; Behavioural analysis
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Fairness
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2022
Last updated: February 2024