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

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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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