Another Former Employee of a Luxury Napa Valley Resort Breaks Silence About Workplace Sexual Harassment at Auberge Solage Resort & Spa in Calistoga
A third woman has shared her story with the California Business Journal detailing allegations that a supervisor in charge of training other employees on policies and procedures for Auberge habitually harassed and intimidated her at work.
The attorneys at Winer Burritt & Scott now represent three former employees who accuse senior massage therapist Eliot Ferrer of grooming, stalking and harassing them. They’ve filed a civil lawsuit to hold Solage management accountable for fostering a toxic work environment that threatens the safety of their workers.
“Auberge failed in its responsibility to separate the employees and failed to protect these women from a senior staff member who preyed on younger, vulnerable colleagues,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney John Winer.
Brenna Gruby, the third woman to join the suit, worked in the reservations department for the high-end spa from the summer of 2018 until winter 2019, when she left her job because Ferrer’s behavior had made her work environment unbearable.
“I felt completely alone,” says Gruby, who only learned that other women had endured similar treatment when she read an article about two massage therapists at Auberge Solage filing a lawsuit in December 2021.
The first plaintiff to come forward, Leila Muller has been a massage therapist for nearly a decade. She was thrilled to begin working at Solage while pregnant with her daughter. “I thought of Elliot kind of like a ‘work dad’ because he’s significantly older than me. And he was just really nice to me.”
According to Muller, it was after Ferrer found out she was pregnant that things “just got out of control.” At first, it seemed that he was trying to be helpful, carrying items for her and bringing her treats. Then he started giving her bracelets he’d made to sell. He asked her to wear them as a way to promote his work, but it became awkward when he repeatedly inquired whether her boyfriend was mad about her wearing Ferrer’s jewelry. He started sending her overly familiar emails and a bathing suit picture.
He began trying to embrace her at work, which she describes as an “uncomfortable hug…he would put his hand on my low back.”
When Ferrer emailed Muller pictures from her hometown, where he had traveled on his day off, things got more worrisome. He had photographed personal landmarks such as her high school and aunt’s store. “It creeped me out,” she says.
The second plaintiff, who asked to be identified as “Amy,” initially joined the Solage team at Muller’s suggestion, working as an on-call massage therapist at the sister spa, Auberge. When she began at Solage, Amy was immediately alarmed by Ferrer’s behavior.
“The first day, I realized he was flirty, that he wouldn’t leave me alone. He was following me around. He was overly friendly. It made me so uncomfortable.”
“I was extremely disappointed with the company. They didn’t listen or take our concerns seriously. My anxiety was so high that I had panic attacks all the time. I started to lose sleep. I got very depressed during that time,” says Amy.
Winer hopes that a successful outcome in the lawsuit will result in effective changes at the resort. Until then, Auberge Solage remains an unsafe environment, especially for young women.
“As far as we can tell, Auberge Solage has done nothing to solve its sexual harassment problem. Instead, they have developed a bunker mentality where they are choosing to litigate rather than fix their broken Spa and HR Department, leaving employees and ultimately patrons at risk”, said Winer.