Lisa Vanderpump Restaurant Ordered To Pay $100,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Lisa Vanderpump and her restaurant Villa Blanca has been ordered to pay $100,000 in punitive damages to former employee Karina Bustillos resulting from her sexual harassment suit against the restaurant.
Lisa Vanderpump, Ken Todd Found Liable
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was hit with the lawsuit in 2012. Bustillos claimed that Villa Blanca’s assistant manager, Michael Govia, sexually harassed her when she worked at the restaurant as a waitress. Govia, she claimed, repeatedly called her a “b—h’ and a “c—t” and had once grabbed her wrists and hurt her when she was trying to get change for a $20. In a separate incident, Bustillos alleged that Govia had tried to kiss her. Bustillos filed the suit after quitting, claiming that she had reported Govia to upper management, but that Villa Blanca failed to follow their own sexual harassment policies.
Bustillos named Vanderpump and her husband, Ken Todd, in the suit against Villa Blanca, claiming that Vanderpump, herself, knew about the allegations against Govia and ignored them. Eventually, said Bustillos, she was forced to quit.
“The waitress had a falling out with a manager. Of course I take that seriously. We’ve looked at all the cameras and there’s no sexual harassment,” Vanderpump said after the lawsuit was filed.
In April, before the trial began, Vanderpump reportedly offered Bustillos a settlement of $40,000, but Bustillos refused and the case went to trial in June.
Accused Assistant Manager Found Not Liable
On June 12, the jury ruled that Govia was not liable, essentially clearing him of the sexual harassment claims and ensuring that, should Bustillos be awarded damages, he would not be required to pay. At the time, Vanderpump celebrated the jury’s decision as a victory on Twitter, declaring “#truthprevailed.”
Victory! It was principal,manager of vb vindicated by the jury unanimously on all charges,been a tough ten days at trial. #truthprevailed
— Lisa Vanderpump (@LisaVanderpump) June 12, 2014
Despite Govia’s exoneration, Bustillos was awarded over $6,000 in compensatory damages. And, on June 17, the jury found that Villa Blanca, Vanderpump and her husband had “acted with malice” towards Bustillos, and thus awarded the plaintiff $100,000 in punitive damages.
Lisa Vanderpump To Appeal
Vanderpump was not pleased by this second ruling, and the reality star took to Twitter again to express her disappointment.
“Hard to comprehend how my manager is totally innocent but vb gets damages against them for something that didn’t happen. Losing faith,” Vanderpump wrote.
Hard to comprehend how my manager is totally innocent but vb gets damages against them for something that didn't happen. Losing faith.
— Lisa Vanderpump (@LisaVanderpump) June 17, 2014
Vanderpump’s attorney also released a statement, saying, “We are in absolute shock at the amount of punitive damages that were awarded. Especially in light of nominal compensatory damages awarded and the lack of sufficient evidence. We plan to immediately file an appeal and are confident that we will prevail.”
More on Lisa Vanderpump: