Los Angeles, CA- Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump can put the sexual harassment case against her and her restaurant Villa Blanca behind her now that a jury has awarded a former server $6,250 in damages.
Karina Bustillos who worked at Villa Blanco’s Beverly Hills location for 14 months alleged in her suit she was forced to quit her job because the restaurant manager Michael Govia created a hostile environment and subjected her to sexual harassment.
On one occasion Govia allegedly tried to kiss Bustillos and in another he grabbed her wrists and twisted them, causing her pain.
Bustillos’ lawsuit alleges management at the restaurant didn’t punish Govia for his behavior despite having a sexual harassment policy in place.
The Los Angeles jury found Villa Blanca was liable for the damages to be paid to Bustillos, but exonerated Govia of the sexual harassment and hostile work environment allegations, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
In order to recover damages for sexual harassment, a person must be able to prove the behavior was persistent and repeated. Apparently, the jury didn’t think Bustillos met this standard, but they did agree Villa Blanca acted in malice, allowing Bustillos’ sexual harassment attorney to pursue punitive damages.
The settlement amount will come solely from the restaurant since the judge determined they could cover the cost and Vanderpump was not liable under the “alter ego” theory, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
This is the second time she has faced a suit over how she treats her employees.
In a suit filed last year by former dishwasher, Ricardo Velasco, Vanderpump, and her husband, Todd were accused Blanca of workplace discrimination and wrongful termination after he suffered a back injury.
As part of his job, Velasco was required to stand for long hours and lift up to 50 lbs. at a time. During one shift he hurt his back and sought medical attention. His doctor placed on temporary disability but when he returned to work he hurt his back again, this time he was told not to return to work for a month. However, when he went to Vanderpump to tell apply for disability he was fired on the spot.
The Real Housewives: Beverly Hills star alleged Valesco was “negligent” in his duties and holding position would have been a hardship on the restaurant.
Velasco initially sued Vanderpump and Todd for $75,000, but last summer they agreed to settle for an undisclosed amount.
There are many protections in the place to protect an employee from harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination. Proving an employer violated an employee’s rights can be very difficult and requires a significant burden of proof. Without a strong case, as with Bustillos, the complainant won’t receive the settlement they deserve.
When you have been sexually harassed and faced retaliation for complaining, you should immediately contact a sexual harassment attorney. With someone well-versed in the workplace discrimination laws on your side you may be able to secure a generous settlement for your troubles.