Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village subject of sexual harassment lawsuit


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Employment issues can get ugly -- even at the tony Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, which has received the American Automobile Assn.’s coveted five-diamond award three straight years.

The Four Seasons’ former lead massage therapist alleged in a recent lawsuit that he was demoted after complaining that the hotel’s general manager was romantically involved with a masseuse and had sought favorable treatment for her.


John B. Henning said he was instructed in August 2009 to make sure that certain massage therapists were not paid more than a masseuse who “was engaging in a romantic relationship” with general manager Thomas Gurtner.

Henning said he refused to comply with the instructions and instead told the hotel’s assistant human resources director that Gurtner was favoring the woman. One month later, Henning alleged, he was demoted and “constructively terminated” from his job. Henning said a supervisor explained that the hotel wanted “to move forward with a more positive team.”

A spokeswoman for the 270-room resort hotel declined to comment.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages, plus legal fees and other costs. It accuses the hotel of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, defamation and wrongful termination.

The Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village opened in 2006 with gourmet restaurants, extensive gardens, waterfalls, walking paths and a 40,000-square-foot spa. According to AAA, fewer than 1 in 200 hotels receive five-diamond status.

-- Stuart Pfeifer