Mary Kay Inc. is nothing if not petty and controlling. And they’re awfully litigious. Remember all the lawsuits against women who were trying to sell the thousands of dollars of products they purchased from MK? It didn’t matter to MK that the company got paid in full for those products. The consultants and former consultants weren’t selling them in the way Mary Kay wanted them to. Lawsuit!
Now Mary Kay Cosmetics is planning to file a federal lawsuit tomorrow against Jennifer Bickel Cook, a woman who worked for Mary Kay Ash for 25 years and has written a book about her experience. The book, Pass It On, was published on October 5, and sold out immediately. The book is described:
In 1963, Mary Kay Ash opened a door of opportunity for millions of women when she founded her own company, Mary Kay Inc. Through her business model and actions as founder, Ash empowered women who wanted to take control of their own careers, while still being able to keep their faith and families at the top of their priority lists. In this passionate memoir, Mary Kay Museum director emeritus Jennifer Bickel Cook celebrates the international legacy of her friend, mentor, and boss-a woman whose incredible journey in faith shaped her own. With color and vivacity, Pass It On: What I Learned from Mary Kay Ash shares Ash’s productivity habits, eccentricities, and Christian faith. From struggling single mother to founder of a successful Dallas-based company, discover how Ash lived out her personal ideology through the varied stages of her career in this in-depth close-up of the woman behind the makeup.
I’m no fan of Mary Kay Ash, a predatory woman who created a scam that looked like it empowered women, but is actually responsible for swindling millions of women out of billions of dollars. But it sounds like this book is a flattering memoir of Ms. Cook’s time working next to Mary Kay. And all of the profits from the book are to go to the Mary Kay Foundation.
But Mary Kay Inc. says that Ms. Cook is violating a non-disclosure agreement. She worked for Mary Kay for 45 years. 25 years was spent as the manager of Mary Kay Ash’s personal staff; then in 1996 she became the director of the Mary Kay Museum and director of the Mary Kay Foundation.
When Mary Kay Inc. found out about the book in September, they had their lawyers send a nasty letter saying Ms. Cooks had “ongoing legal obligations to Mary Kay” (i.e. the non-disclosure agreement) and demanding that they be provided a copy of the book the next day and also demanding that the publisher delay the publication of it. MK wanted “to determine if it contains any of Mary Kay’s confidential and proprietary information.” The lawyers also said that Ms. Cook had asked MK consultants to promote the book to other consultants, which might be a “violation of the terms and conditions of their agreements with Mary Kay and jeopardize their businesses.” Really, Mary Kay?????
The lawyers say they’re suing Ms. Cook on Friday. Because, of course. From the article:
Mary Kay spokeswoman Kelly Medley said the company isn’t concerned about whether the book is a positive take on the company’s founder. Instead, “the question is whether or not Ms. Cook violated federal copyright law and her obligations to Mary Kay Inc. in the process of writing and promoting this book, largely to Mary Kay’s independent beauty consultants.”
Not a good look, Mary Kay Inc. Leave this woman alone.