Los Angeles, CA- “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump wants to settle sexual harassment suit before the case heads to trial, even though she denies her former employees accusations. The reality star just wants the case behind her.
Karina Bustillo, who worked at Villa Blanco’s Beverly Hills location, filed her sexual harassment suit in April of 2012, alleging that restaurant manager Michael Govia subjected her to a hostile work environment. In her suit, Bustillo alleges the in one incident Govia told her to close her eyes. When she opened them, an open-mouthed Govia was near her, attempting to land a kiss. Bustillos was outraged and complained about the incident, but she says Vanderpump ignored her complaints.
After she complained about the incident, Bustillos claims Govia started calling her names like “b*tch” and “c*nt”, telling other servers he “could have her,” suggesting he could sleep with her if he wanted. In another incident Govia allegedly “grabbed and twisted her wrists.”
Bustillos also alleges that when she approached Vanderpump to complain of the abuse, she refused to listen.
When news of the lawsuit surfaced, Vanderpump said, “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.” Adding, “This is just a disgruntled employee.”
Bustillos filed a lawsuit because she was forced to quit due to the unaddressed harassment and sought $5 million in compensation.
Vanderpump denies the claims and told TMZ, Bustillos’ “suit is ridiculous. The woman is an out-of-work actress who has admitted in her deposition she’s been fired several times … once for drinking on the job.”
Vanderpump also said, “contrary to Bustillos’ allegations — it’s already been established Lisa knew nothing about the accusations until the case was filed.” She added that one has even complained about Govia in the numerous years he has worked at the restaurant. Vanderpump said she investigated Bustillos’ claims and found no evidence that Govia did anything wrong.
But nonetheless, Vanderpump is eager to put the nearly two year-old case behind and offered Bustillos a $40,001 financial settlement. She has until today to decide if she will take Vanderpump’s offer.
Proving sexual harassment can be difficult and is often a case of one person’s word against another’s. In order to prove allegations are true, a sexual harassment attorney must be able to show the harassment was based on the victim’s protected class, the behavior was unwanted and it was repeated and pervasive.
Another key element of a sexual harassment case is proving the behavior created a “hostile work environment.” This type of harassment doesn’t constitute direct retaliation of the complainant; instead they must prove the behavior makes it difficult for the individual to work because they are subjected to ridicule, jokes or offensive comments.
A successful claim is possible as long as the complainant retains an experienced sexual harassment attorney to build a strong case.