victoria secret karen lawsuit

In July 2021, a video of a white woman having a meltdown at a Victoria Secret store in New Jersey went viral on social media. The woman, later identified as Abigail Elphick, was seen screaming, crying, and chasing a black woman, Ijeoma Ukenta, who was recording her with her phone. The incident sparked outrage and controversy, as many people accused Elphick of being a racist and a “Karen” – a term used to describe entitled and aggressive white women who behave badly in public. Ukenta later filed a lawsuit against Elphick, Victoria Secret, the mall, and its security company, alleging that she was assaulted, discriminated, and humiliated by them. Elphick, on the other hand, claimed that she was disabled and had a mental breakdown due to fear of losing her job and housing. What really happened that day, and what are the legal and social implications of this case? Here is what you need to know.

Background of the Incident

According to Ukenta, she was at the Victoria Secret store in The Mall at Short Hills on July 11, 2021, to redeem a coupon for a free pair of panties. She said that Elphick was standing too close to her in the line, and she asked her to maintain some distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elphick then became angry and tried to hit Ukenta, who started recording her with her phone. The video, which Ukenta posted on YouTube and TikTok, showed Elphick throwing a tantrum, lying on the floor, covering her face, and begging Ukenta to stop recording her. Elphick also pretended to faint, asked for help from the store employees and other customers, and accused Ukenta of threatening her. Ukenta said that she kept recording for her own safety and evidence, as she feared that Elphick would lie to the police and accuse her of being the aggressor. She also said that the store staff and the mall security did not intervene or help her, and instead asked her to leave the premises.

The video quickly went viral, attracting millions of views and comments. Many people expressed their support and sympathy for Ukenta, and condemned Elphick for her behavior. They also criticized Victoria Secret and the mall for their lack of action and accountability. Some people also donated to Ukenta GoFundMe campaign, which she set up to raise money for legal fees and therapy. Elphick, meanwhile, became the subject of ridicule and backlash, as people called her a “Victoria Secret Karen” and a racist. Some people also claimed to have identified her as a teacher at a local school, and demanded that she be fired.

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The Lawsuit

Ukenta Lawsuit:

Nearly two years after the incident, on July 6, 2023, Ukenta filed a civil lawsuit against Elphick, Victoria’s Secret, the mall, and its security company in the Superior Court of New Jersey. She alleged that Elphick assaulted her, violated her civil rights, and inflicted emotional distress on her. She also accused Victoria Secret of negligence, discrimination, and breach of contract, claiming that they failed to protect her as a customer and a member of their loyalty program. She further alleged that the mall and its security company were negligent and indifferent to her safety and well-being, and that they treated her as the antagonist instead of the victim. She sought compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Elphick Countersuit:

Elphick, on the other hand, filed a countersuit against Ukenta, claiming that she was the one who provoked and harassed her, and that she had a right to privacy and dignity. She also revealed that she was disabled, and that she had a long history of medical and psychological conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She said that she had a panic attack and a mental breakdown due to fear of losing her job and housing, as she lived in a residential complex for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She argued that Ukenta violated her privacy and civil rights by recording and posting the video without her consent, and that she suffered defamation, harassment, and emotional distress as a result. She also sought compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to remove the video from the internet.

Legal Arguments:

Both parties have hired lawyers to represent them in the court. Ukenta lawyers have argued that the video was necessary to document the incident and to protect Ukenta from false accusations. They have also claimed that Elphick disability was not a valid excuse for her actions, and that she was motivated by racial bias and prejudice. Elphick lawyers have argued that the video was an invasion of Elphick privacy and dignity, and that it caused her irreparable harm and damage. They have also claimed that Elphick was not a racist, and that she had a disorder that made her react in an irrational and uncontrollable way.

Broader Implications

The incident and the lawsuit have raised several questions and issues that go beyond the personal dispute between the two women. Some of these issues are:

  • Privacy: What are the rights and responsibilities of people who record and post videos of others in public places? When is it justified to do so, and when is it an invasion of privacy? How can the privacy of people with disabilities and mental health issues be protected and respected?
  • Mental health: How can people with disabilities and mental health issues be supported and accommodated in public spaces? How can they cope with stress and anxiety in challenging situations? How can they avoid being stigmatized and discriminated for their conditions?
  • Racial dynamics: How can people of different races and backgrounds interact and communicate with each other in a respectful and peaceful way? How can racial bias and prejudice be recognized and addressed? How can racial justice and equality be promoted and achieved?

Responses from Involved Parties

Since the incident, both Victoria Secret and The Mall at Short Hills have issued statements regarding the matter. Victoria Secret said that they were “deeply upset” by the video, and that they did not tolerate any form of discrimination or violence in their stores. They also said that they were conducting a thorough investigation, and that they were in touch with Ukenta to offer their support and assistance. The Mall at Short Hills said that they were “aware” of the incident, and that they were working with the local authorities and the store to ensure the safety and security of their customers and employees. They also said that they were committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

Neither Elphick nor Ukenta have made any public statements after the lawsuit was filed. However, Ukenta has continued to post updates on her GoFundMe page, thanking her supporters and sharing her progress and challenges. Elphick, on the other hand, has remained silent and low-profile, as she faces public scrutiny and criticism.

Current Developments

The lawsuit is still ongoing, and no trial date has been set yet. Both parties are expected to exchange evidence and arguments, and to seek a resolution through mediation or arbitration. If no settlement is reached, the case will go to trial, where a judge or a jury will decide the outcome.

The incident and the lawsuit have also continued to generate public interest and media coverage, as people follow the developments and express their opinions and perspectives. Some people have shown their solidarity and sympathy for Ukenta, and have demanded justice and accountability for her. Others have shown their compassion and understanding for Elphick, and have urged empathy and forgiveness for her. Some people have also tried to find a middle ground, and have called for dialogue and reconciliation between the two women.


The incident involving Abigail Elphick and Ijeoma Ukenta at a Victoria Secret store was more than just a personal conflict. It was a reflection of the complex and contentious issues that affect our society today, such as privacy, mental health, and racial dynamics. It also showed the power and influence of social media, as it amplified and shaped the narrative and the response to the incident. The lawsuit that followed the incident was an attempt to seek legal and moral justice, as well as to address the underlying causes and consequences of the incident. The outcome of the lawsuit, however, is still uncertain, and it may not satisfy or resolve the needs and expectations of the parties involved, or the public at large. Therefore, it is important to learn from this incident, and to use it as an opportunity to improve ourselves and our society, by being more aware, respectful, and compassionate towards each other.


How did Ukenta video affect Elphick job and housing situation?

According to some reports, Elphick was suspended from her job as a teacher at a local school after the video went viral. She also faced eviction from her residential complex for people with disabilities, as the management claimed that she violated the rules and caused a disturbance. Elphick lawyers have denied these allegations, and have said that she is still employed and housed, and that she is receiving medical and psychological treatment.

What are the legal precedents and challenges for cases involving video recording and privacy rights?

The case is complex, as it involves audio and video, and different expectations of privacy. Ukenta said she recorded for protection and evidence, Elphick said she had a right to privacy and dignity.

How did Victoria Secret and the mall change their policies or practices after the incident?

Victoria Secret and the mall have not publicly announced any specific changes to their policies or practices after the incident. However, they have stated that they are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for their customers and employees, and that they are reviewing their protocols and training to ensure that they are aligned with their values and standards. They have also said that they are cooperating with the authorities and the parties involved in the lawsuit, and that they are taking the matter seriously .

By John Smith

Hi, I'm John Smith, a freelance writer and blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. I love sharing my thoughts and opinions on various topics, such as Tech, sports, entertainment, and more. I started this blog in 2023 to express myself and connect with other like-minded people. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and feel free to leave your comments and feedback. Thank you for visiting my website!