Former Employee Claims She Was Fired For Complaining About Fraud, Sexual Harassment
MALIBU (CBS) — A woman claims a Malibu wedding venue fired her for complaining about sexual harassment and fraud by the property manager.
Karen Waldron filed her lawsuit against Church Estate Vineyards and Robert Haggstrom Monday in Los Angeles Superior court. She alleges breach of contract, sexual battery, retaliation and gender violence and is seeking more than $425,000 in damages.
Church Estate Vineyards features a French chateau, gardens and vineyards and is where Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie and actor Josh Duhamel were married, according to the venue’s website.
Waldron, according to the lawsuit, was hired as director of event in December 2010 to help promote the property, give tours and help coordinate events. She says she was promised a $118,000 annual salary and that Haggstram promised an additional $250,000 bonus if he sold more than a half-interest in the property in the six months after her contract ended.
Waldron says she discovered Haggstrom was committing fraud by falsely accusing clients of property damage and deducting repair costs from deposits, according to the lawsuit.
“Haggstrom also attended the wedding receptions himself, uninvited, and helped himself to food and beverages that his clients were being charged for,” the suit states. “Wedding clients were appalled.”
The lawsuit also claims Haggstrom got drunk on liquor paid for by clients.
Waldron claims Haggstrom touched her inappropriately often and once came to her home uninvited, staying for an hour. She says she eventually convinced him to leave, but not before he “extracted a long hug…before he left.”
Haggstrom also told Waldron he was in love with her, even though she was married and she had no romantic feelings for him, the lawsuit claims. Waldron says she was fired in October 2011 after presenting documented complaints.
Waldron had to find another job that paid far less than what she made at Church Estate Vineyards, according to the lawsuit.