I think pretty much everyone wants January to be over at this point, but that’s probably especially true for Lisa Vanderpump. Just a couple weeks ago, both of the new men in the Vanderpump Rules cast had their racist tweets exposed, casting an icky vibe across the new season. It remains to be seen what happens with those Pump Rules clowns (fire their asses!), but they haven’t had any confessional interviews in the last two episodes, so it seems like the editors are doing their best to cut down their screen time. But as if that wasn’t enough, now Lisa Vanderpump also has a sexual harassment lawsuit to deal with. It’s a dark time in West Hollywood.
The new lawsuit stems from Lisa’s Vanderpump Dog Foundation, which we’ve seen highlighted in recent seasons of both Vanderpump Rules and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In the legal documents obtained by Radar Online (why is it always Radar Online?), a former Vanderpump Dogs groomer alleges that she was subject to “unlawful harassment based on sex, gender, and sexual orientation” from her manager, Martin Duarte. The employee, Damiana Guzman, was employed at Vanderpump Dogs for approximately two months last summer, and she says in the suit that the harassment lasted pretty much the whole time, ultimately leading her to resign.
The details of the harassment outlined in the court documents are… pretty shocking. Guzman alleges that Duarte referred to her as both a “skinny no-ass fool” and a “flat-ass bitch,” and also told Guzman he didn’t understand how her girlfriend wanted to be with her because “she had no ass.” Yikes yikes yikes. Obviously, this kind of thing is 100% not okay for a manager to say to an employee, or like, for anyone to say, ever. But also, why was this dude so fixated on her ass? This is so weirdly specific and gross.
Unsurprisingly, Duarte’s insults went hand in hand with unwanted sexual advances, because of course they did. The documents allege that Duarte, “who was aware of Plaintiff’s sexual orientation, told her that he could turn her straight and that she had not found the right man on numerous occasions. He also claimed that he turned the mother of his child straight.” Oh my god, so this guy is both trash AND woefully misinformed on how sexual orientation works. What a winning combo! Seriously, f*ck this guy.
But while the sh*tty behavior of one man is bad, Guzman’s description of Vanderpump Dogs’ reaction to her complaints is even more unsettling. According to the lawsuit, when she reported the harassment to upper management, “they failed to take any meaningful action,” so she felt she had no choice but to resign. Ugh, this makes me so mad. It’s no secret at this point that sexual misconduct is an issue in countless work environments, but it’s deeply disappointing that people in power are still doing nothing about it. None of the higher-ups are named, so I’m assuming they’re not people we know from the shows, but either way, this is very bad.
It’s important to note that, while Lisa Vanderpump is the public face of Vanderpump Dogs, she’s not named in this lawsuit. I’m guessing she didn’t actually know about this situation while it was happening, but it’s still a pretty terrible look for her, especially because she prides herself on being a huge LGBTQ ally. Between her less-than-satisfying response to the recent racist tweet situation and this lawsuit, she really needs to get her employees’ sh*t together.
Another interesting aspect to this story is what it could mean for Lisa’s future TV prospects. Since she left RHOBH last year, there’s been speculation that there could be a Vanderpump Dogs spin-off in the near future, which would theoretically focus on both Lisa her employees at the foundation. I’ve never been thrilled about this idea, but I want this even less if this is the kind of thing that goes on behind the scenes at Vanderpump Dogs. If I want to see toxic men being sh*tty to their female coworkers, I could just go back and rewatch all eight seasons of Vanderpump Rules, or the current season of Below Deck (which is a YIKES). So far, there hasn’t been any official confirmation that a Vanderpump Dogs show is happening, so I kind of hope it’s just a rumor that never ends up coming to be.
It’s unclear if Martin Duarte is still working at Vanderpump Dogs, but if he is, I’m sure Lisa will put out a statement soon about how he’s a great guy who made bad decisions and he just needs a second chance. Or she’ll just say nothing and hope this all goes away. Probably the latter. God, what a mess.