Real life is getting complicated for reality TV celebrity Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd, who have been hit with another class action lawsuit, this one alleging failure to properly pay employees at Sur.
In a suit filed on July 31 in L.A. Superior Court, former employee Olivia Hanson claims that she and other employees of the Robertson Boulevard restaurant weren’t paid overtime, that employee work records were altered to show they had worked fewer hours than they had, and that Sur violated numerous other state employment laws.
The filing of the lawsuit originally was reported by the New York Post. It is one of a number of lawsuits filed against Vanderpump and Todd and their businesses alleging everything from failure to properly pay employees to sexual harassment by managers.
In addition to Vanderpump and Todd, the suit lists Guillermo Zapata and his wife, Natalie Pouille-Zapata, the restaurant’s co-owners and founders. Sur became famous with the launch in 2013 of “Vanderpump Rules,” a Bravo reality TV show focused on the interpersonal squabbles and affairs of Sur’s actor-wannabee staffers.
Vanderpump and Todd also are being sued by Adam Pierce Antoine, an employee of PUMP, their restaurant and bar on Santa Monica Boulevard at Robertson, who is making similar allegations. Both Antoine and Hanson are represented by David Bibiyan and Diego Aviles of Bibiyan Law Group, who are asking that the judge declare both suits as class action matters, which they say would cover a minimum of 50 current and former employees and likely many more.
Vanderpump’s Vanderpump Dog Foundation was sued in January by Damiana Guzman, who claimed she had been sexually harassed by her manager. Guzman, who quit her job as a dog groomer in July 2019, alleged that manager Martin Duarte disparaged her because she was a lesbian and insulted her with comments about her body, calling her a “skinny no-ass fool,” and a “flat-ass bitch.” He also told that he could convert her and “turn her straight,” the suit alleges. Guzman said she complained to Duarte’s superiors but got no response.
While those suits are still pending, Vanderpump and Todd already lost a lawsuit in 2014 brought by an employee of Villa Blanca, their restaurant in Beverly Hills. In June 2014 an L.A. Superior Court jury decided that the couple would have to pay $6,250 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages to the employee, who alleged that she was sexually harassed by an assistant manager at the restaurant. The judge also ordered Vanderpump and Todd to pay the employee’s $1.49 million in attorneys’ fees. The restaurant also was sued by a food vendor for failing to pay its bill. Villa Blanca recently closed.
And in 2013, Andrew Gruver and Ryan Carrillo, former employees of The Abbey and SBE Entertainment Group, sued Vanderpump and Todd and Elie Samaha, who had the master lease on the PUMP property. They alleged that Samaha had promised them he would invest $500,000 in a gay sports bar they hoped to open at 8948 Santa Monica Blvd., where PUMP opened in May 2014. The suit says that Samaha held the master lease on the property, formerly the home of the Java Detour coffee bar.
Gruver and Carrillo alleged that Samaha not only didn’t deliver on his promise of an investment, but that after signing an agreement to lease the property to them for $4,000 a month he turned around and leased it to Vanderpump and her husband, Ken Todd.
WEHOville has been unable to get a comment from Vanderpump or Todd about the latest lawsuit. However, the law firm representing Sur made the following statement to the New York Post:
“Sur denies the allegations in the lawsuit brought by our former employee, Olivia Hanson. The company takes employee compensation very seriously and has extensive policies and procedures in place to comply with the wage laws. We care deeply for our employees and are committed to providing them with fair and competitive compensation that is fully compliant with the law.
“During this difficult and challenging time, we will continue to strive to responsibly and safely reopen our restaurant in order to return our valued employees back to work.”