Two former massage therapists at the Fairmount Grand Del Mar (GDM) filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that management at the luxury resort’s spa allowed pervasive sexual harassment from VIP massage clients and made multiple attempts to cover up years of employee complaints.
The lawsuit was brought by two former therapists and detailed multiple instances of clients’ sexual harassment against them and at least four other therapists.
GDM denies any wrongdoing and said in a statement that it acts diligently to investigate employee complaints, but the 50-page lawsuit accuses spa staff of disregarding harassment complaints and, in some cases, deleting electronic records of them.
The plaintiffs claim they were scheduled to give massages to two clients who repeatedly exposed themselves, made inappropriate comments, and requested sex acts. According to the claim, these appointments were scheduled despite years of complaints from several therapists detailing similar behavior.
In one instance, a therapist complained about a once-banned client and refused to work with him because she felt uncomfortable after he repeatedly exposed himself to her and made sexual advances. After multiple failed attempts at booking the therapist, the client tried to book an appointment with her at another spa where she worked.
The lawsuit said the therapist feared she was being stalked and called the GDM spa director who denied knowledge of the therapist’s original complaint and of any investigation into the behavior of the client in question.
When another therapist, who claimed she was harassed by the same client, found out he was allowed to book appointments following a months-long ban, she became irate, the lawsuit said. She asked the spa director how the client could be allowed to book appointments given her prior complaints against him, and the director of the spa allegedly admitted to deleting her complaints on his file because “we can’t have those kinds of notes on high-profile guests.”
The lawsuit says the clients in question spend tens of thousands of dollars on golf and spa memberships at the resort.
When one of the therapists notified the hotel she was going to sue towards the end of 2018, she was told that she was fired months prior for failing to answer her phone. The therapist claims in the lawsuit that months had gone by since making her last complaint and she was never called to work. She also says she was never notified that she was fired.
The second therapist named in the lawsuit continued working for the hotel as recently as this February, but quit because of the alleged hostile work environment.
The lawsuit asked for monetary compensation for the therapists’ wrongful termination, the hotel's failure to protect and prevent sexual harassment by clients, and retaliation against the therapists for bringing legal action.
The full statement from the GDM reads as follows:
“Fairmont Grand Del Mar acts diligently to investigate employee complaints and is confident that there was no wrongdoing by the hotel in connection with this matter. The safety of our guests and our colleagues is a top priority and providing a healthy work environment remains paramount. As this matter is currently in litigation we are not able to further comment.”