Actress Jessica Alba’s $1 billion Honest Company may not be so honest after all, at least not according to a slew of recent lawsuits. On the heels of two class action lawsuits filed last year, both of which alleged false advertising in connection with the company’s all natural sunscreen, Alba’s Los Angeles-based company is under fire again – thanks to two new lawsuits – for allegedly deceiving consumers yet again. Honest Co, which was launched in 2011 and boasts a lineup of eco-friendly and hypoallergenic goods, is in the spotlight after a Wall Street Journal investigation published earlier this month uncovered that the company’s laundry detergent contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical that the company promised never to use.
Thus far, a proposed class action complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York against The Honest Company and another putative class action was filed in the District Court for the Central District of California. In both cases, the plaintiffs allege that the company violated each state’s consumer protection laws and also allege “misrepresentation, false advertising, fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment.”
In one instance, Illinois resident Staci Seed filed a proposed class-action lawsuit just seven days after the WSJ report, alleging that Honest Co. is "misleading [consumers] in the extreme" by advertising its products as SLS-free. According to Seed’s complaint, Honest’s labels specifically state that it uses sodium coco sulfate (SCS), a less-harsh alternative to SLS. However, according to the WSJ investigation, SCS is a blend of chemicals that includes a significant amount of SLS. Moreover, according to Seed’s complaint, her lawyers conducted their own independent lab testing of Honest's laundry detergent in February.
The Honest Company has taken issue with the Journal's testing methods and insists the two chemicals are distinct, and thus, the lasts are without merit. On March 16, Honest released a statement saying: "The Journal confirms what we have said all along, that we use Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) in our laundry detergent. And, to reiterate our position, just because you can isolate the C-12 carbon chain in a test for SCS does not mean we use SLS in our product."
Alba’s company vows to “vigorously defend ourselves” against the most recent bout of lawsuits.