Lisa Vanderpump is a popular restaurant owner in Beverly Hills and a former star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She also owns a non-profit, Vanderpump’s Dog Foundation, which works “on both a domestic and international front to help create a better world for dogs globally.”
Her dog rescue foundation has been sued by a former employee who alleges sexual harassment. Damiana Guzman claims she was forced to resign after two months of working under “intolerable working conditions.” She claims that her manager called her names and mocked her sex, gender, and sexuality. She alleges that the manager called her a “skinny no-a– fool” and a flat-a– b—h.” Additionally, she accuses the manager of mocking her sexual orientation by saying he could “turn her straight.”
The Foundation’s executive director issued the following statement: “It’s a shame that someone who worked for the Foundation for less than 90 days would choose to sue or try to malign an organization whose sole purpose is dedicated to being a voice for the voiceless. Working to resolve unnecessary cases like this just takes away from being able to save more lives.”
Putting aside whether Guzman was harassed and whether these acts rise to an actionable level of sexual harassment, there are some important and obvious issues with the Foundation’s statement. First, even a short-term employee can be harassed. Second, the purpose of the employer, however positive and philanthropic it may be, is not relevant to the determination of whether the manager harassed the employee.
In light of the statement and the fact that there is no denial of liability, I would expect that this case is quickly resolved.