NAPA, Calif. (December 16, 2021)— Two massage therapists that worked at the Auberge Solage Resort & Spa in Calistoga filed a lawsuit this week in Napa County Superior Court that accuses the global corporation of protecting a senior staff member who preyed on other employees.
The complaint names two women who claim a supervisor in charge of training other employees on policies and procedures for Auberge habitually harassed, intimidated, and touched them inappropriately despite repeated complaints to management.
“Auberge forced our clients to work directly with a sexual harasser and condoned his behavior,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney John Winer. “Auberge failed in its responsibility to separate the employees and failed to protect these women from an ongoing hostile work environment,” he added.
The plaintiffs include 32-year-old Leila Muller, who started working at Auberge as a massage therapist in March of 2018. Leila worked directly with Elliot Ferrer, a senior massage therapist in his sixties who she claims showed her an excessive amount of attention when she first started the job. According to the complaint, Ferrer approached her with his unwelcome and intrusive behavior, often buying her gifts and sending her inappropriate emails. The unwanted attention escalated into hugs, nonconsensual touching of her butt, and then turned hostile when she rejected his advancements.
“I reported the ongoing behavior to the Spa Director, and management assured me they would handle the matter, but nothing changed, and they took no steps to protect my safety in the workplace,” said Leila Muller. “When I realized no one cared, I felt depressed and hopeless,” added Muller. In addition to reporting the behavior to Human Resources, Leila filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
On March 15, 2020, Leila stopped working at the resort due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. She has been available to return to work at Auberge, but they have not requested that she return.
The second plaintiff, Raquel Williamson, currently works as an on-call therapist at Solage in Calistoga. She explained in the complaint that she witnessed Ferrer sexually harassing Leila and experienced unwanted touching and retaliatory behavior.
“We are not the only ones who suffered in silence. Other masseuses continue to experience sexual harassment by this same supervisor, but they’re too afraid to come forward because of the fear of losing their job,” said Raquel Williamson.
“If Auberge can’t keep its staff safe from sexual harassment at the Spa, how can we be sure they’re willing to protect their guests?” said Winer.
Read Complaint: 12.15.21 FILED Muller, et al v. Auberge, et al. Complaint