Sephora’s Late-Night Lipstick Runs Afoul of French Labor Laws

At 11 p.m., long after most Paris shops have closed for the evening, Sephora on the Champs-Elysees is still bustling with customers browsing for cosmetics and perfume. That puts the shop in violation of France’s labor laws.

A Paris court ruled yesterday that the Sephora store must close no later than 9 p.m. because of a law that bans late-night working hours at most businesses. Sephora, owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury-goods maker, said it will comply with the ruling and submit an appeal.

Unions had complained that Sephora was violating the law by keeping the store open until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. Fifty-eight of the store’s 200 employees volunteer to work nights in exchange for extra pay, Agence France-Presse reported. More than 50 Sephora employees attended a court hearing to support the company’s position.

“We’ve been stabbed” by the unions, Sephora saleswoman Ines Sampiecro told AFP. A union representative contended that Sephora had “blackmailed” employees into opposing the unions.

Sephora closes its other stores by 9 p.m. but keeps the Champs-Elysées outlet open later because it’s in what the company called an “exceptional tourist zone.” The store, according to AFP, draws 6 million visitors a year and rings up 20 percent of its sales after 9 p.m.

The ruling could have implications for other businesses that now keep their Champs-Elysees outlets open after 9 p.m. They range from fast-fashion outlet H&M to watchmaker Swatch to music and electronics retailer FNAC.

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