Lisa Vanderpump Ordered To Pay Former Server $1.5 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Posted on Nov 18 2014 - 2:29pm by BeachSpin

Lisa Vanderpump

The premiere of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” isn’t the only milestone occupying the thoughts of star Lisa Vanderpump, and husband, Ken Todd.

My News LA. is reporting that the ongoing lawsuit between a server who was employed by the couple’s restaurant, Villa Blanca, and management has been settled with a final award of $1.5 million, in attorney’s fees.  The case was originally filed back in October of 2012. The plaintiff, Karina Bustillos, was previously awarded $6,250 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages in her sexual harassment lawsuit, back in June. She alleged that manager, Michael Govia, sexually harassed her, by violently grabbing her wrists, calling her vile names, and attempting to kiss her. Curiously, there were no witnesses that came forward to back up the aspiring model/actress’ claims, and the accused perpetrator was exonerated of all charges. 

KarinaBustillosKarina Bustillos

When Vanderpump was questioned as to why she didn’t take action to deal with Govia, she asserted that careful examination of the establishment’s video footage turned up no evidence to support the accusation. Bustillos maintained that she had to resign due to the RHOB star’s neglect of upholding Villa Blanca’s own sexual harassment policy, noting that the stress made it impossible for her to remain there. She had been a server there for about 14 months, before leaving in September of 2012.

While the suit was technically filed against Villa Blanca Restaurant, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Michael Linfield, later ruled that because Lisa and Ken had unitary interests, they should share liability with their business. He also said that he disagreed with defense attorney Marianne Zakarian’s assertion that the amount of the fees sought by the plaintiff, was excessive. Lisa Maki, one of Bastillos’ lawyers, praised the ruling, citing it as an incentive to bring other plaintiffs forward.

“We believe it is important to award ample fees in civil rights cases such as this so that plaintiffs will be encouraged to come forward,” Maki said.

It seems odd to me that the manager was completely exonerated, with Ken and Lisa taking such a huge hit. I have to assume that the technical buck stopped with them, and because they didn’t believe there was sufficient evidence to take action, their presumed attitude of not kowtowing to false allegations proved costly.  While I am sure that they will tread a bit more carefully from now on, my guess is that they are standing by their position. With the show starting tonight, maybe a glimpse of that gorgeous closet will get our reality focus right back to where it frivolously belongs!  Bring on the pink glamour…after New Jersey, I am READY!

 

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About the Author

I am a coastal girl who loves the outdoors, and writing about the sneaky and silly side of reality TV. My bio is short, but my snark is endless, and I love writing for the sharpest posters in the world. Follow me on Facebook

  • GREAT BLOG
    Owners of Restaurant/Bars are responsible for their managers conduct.
    Realistically, this victim would be awarded $100k max per other similar cases, imo

  • Nene robs kids

    Great blog! Lisa will learn a hard lesson from this I think

  • italiano bambino

    Idk look what kind of staff she got going on in her business. …

  • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

    I still don’t get this case. From what I understand the manager was exonerated but Ken and Lisa were held to account for how they handled the allegation. It’s a really tough one here because if the allegation was baseless then what action could they take?

    • Hi TBHhE……it’s really puzzling to me as well. Allegedly Ken tampered with the restaurant video footage and they handled the allegation poorly.

      • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

        Glad I’m not alone! I read that too about the video footage and wondered if it was just a case of them wiping tape routinely.

        • Hmmmm……I never though of it like that. Maybe so. Seems Lisa and Ken are getting railroaded.

          • WestCoastFeed

            Nope they deserved it

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            It’s a difficult one for an employer if they don’t think the accusation holds water.

          • WestCoastFeed

            But they just blew it off and neglected to take it seriously.

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            Perhaps their experience of her as an employee affected their take on it. It’s hard to know in a case like this. It just doesn’t add up to me what was in it for them.

  • WestCoastFeed

    The, tape was erased . So the evidence was erased. But the manager testified in court that he made a copy of what h a happened and emailed it to Ken. T he manager recommended that they rearrange her schedule to avoid more incidents. Ken brushed the whole thing off. The jury found the restaurant at fault and believed Karen. If Ken had handled it properly to begin with they w wouldn’t be out a dime.

    • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

      Hi WCF. Was that evidence emailed by the supervisor not used in court? Surely it can be found somewhere if emailed? I’m not saying Ken was right but I do think it is hard for employers to get the right balance especially if they feel the employee doesn’t have any grounds. Changing shifts for everyone who doesn’t want to work with another colleague could be a minefield in their business.

      • WestCoastFeed

        The tape was destroyed. That’s why Ken was said to have acted in malice.

        • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

          Can an emailed version be destroyed? It’s hard to understand why Ken would do that to protect the manager if he knew he had acted improperly. It’s not like they couldn’t find a replacement.

          • WestCoastFeed

            Well that is what the jury decided after hearing all the evidence.

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            True.

  • GinaXOXO

    Ken ordered the video surveillance destroyed. The the jury found that Villa Blanca “acted with malice.”

    I am concerned by the tone of this article. What stood out to me was “curiously there were not witnesses” and “presumed attitude of not kowtowing to false claims”. Why would Ken order the video surveillance destroyed unless it supported the servers claims?? I don’t think she was lying and as far as I know the manager is still employed by VP and Todd.

    • WestCoastFeed

      I agree. The manager, was not exonerated. That was Lisa’s attempt at/ spin.

      • GinaXOXO

        I believe the jury could not find him guilty because the video was destroyed. But, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty. It still seems pretty obvious that because Ken ordered the video destroyed they was something he didn’t want anyone to see.

        • WestCoastFeed

          That’s right. The jury didn’t have enough to prove the incident, but they had more than enough on Ken.

          • GinaXOXO

            It is pretty clear isn’t it WestCoastFeed . . . sometimes I am kind of shocked at how difficult it is for some posters to comprehend what happened with this case. It probably isn’t that they *can’t* understand but don’t want to.

          • WestCoastFeed

            It feels very much like being in a crowd of tree huggers who refuse to accept the truth

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            I don’t see anything wrong with questioning what happened here. I don’t understand it – what’s wrong with that? I don’t understand what was in it for Ken and Lisa. Things aren’t always so black and white.

    • Dave

      The server could be lying using the same claims you assert in this comment. Restaurant workers lie and sue employers all the time. This is not uncommon in California.

      • GinaXOXO

        It was the manager who testified about Ken asking him to destroy the video. Is that what you mean the server could be lying about?

        To your point we live in a sue happy world. I am shocked by all of the rules to just get our business cleared to drive on the property of a customer to deliver goods. I read the contracts and wonder to myself . . . what kind of jerk sued them for this because I know they are the reason for all of the extreme rules.

        • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

          I read a transcript of the managers evidence and according to that Ken did not ask him to destroy it, he just asked him if he had deleted it and the manager said he had. It seems from that that the manager deleted it of his own volition before Ken even asked him that question.

          • GinaXOXO

            Are you sure you are talking about the right copy? The manager saved a copy and emailed it. That is probably the copy you are talking about.

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            When you said that Ken asked the manager to destroy it did you mean the one he took on his phone? The manager in his evidence said he was not aware of any other saved copy other than the one on his phone and only that Ken asked him if he had deleted it. He never said Ken asked him to destroy it.

          • GinaXOXO

            No, I am talking about the video surveillance. I wonder if the “email” copy is what was on his phone though. That makes sense to me.

  • Dave

    This case is bizarre with many missing parts. Sounds like Lisa and Ken got a raw deal. Hopefully they can appeal the decision.

    • WestCoastFeed

      What to appeal? This is to pay her lawyers.

  • September24

    If Ken ordered the tape destroyed it was to save himself not the manager. If the video was shown Ken would probably plead the fifth!

  • WestCoastFeed

    I don’t watch V R, but from what I’ve read about it, I don’t see why anyone was surprised by this decision.

    • VR is not real….it can’t be real. That show is horrid and in real life the whole cast would have been fired long ago.

      • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

        It’s very contrived but I laugh when people are shocked by it. I used to work in a boring sales office many many years ago and seriously, some of what went on there would make Brandi blush. These weren’t young people either. Can only imagine the raging hormones and egos amongst a group of wannabe actors in BH.

        • That’s how you have to look at VR’s…entertainment purposes only. You can’t take it seriously at all. I can only imagine what went on in your sales office. LMAO!!

  • WestCoastFeed

    There is another sexual harassment case still outstanding against them.

  • Seems like Ken and Teresa G. may be related. They didn’t tell the whole truth, hid some facts, and got in worse trouble than what they were in before. SMH