A woman who worked as a beverage attendant at a ritzy golf club in Southern California is suing the establishment over claims she was subjected to years of sexual harassment and assault by wealthy members and some male staff.
Peyton Stover, 26, from Long Beach, worked at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach in Orange County for two years, where she would provide drinks to golfers. She says they would often grope her and ask her to lift up her shirt.
After she complained to her supervisor, James Poper, and club manager Mitchel Queen, they defended the behavior on the grounds that the golfers had paid a premium to become members of the club, Stover’s suit alleges.
She is seeking $15m in damages. Fees at the club are believed to be close to $5,000 a year after a joining fee of up to $10,000.
Peyton Stover, 26, a former beverage attendant at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, California, is suing the club for over $15million
Stover’s suit alleges that, over two years, golfers at the club routinely subjected her to sexual harassment, assault, and provided her with drugs and alcohol
In a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court, Stover alleges the club condoned such behavior and put profits ahead of the legal obligations it had to its employees.
The harassment endured, she claims, ultimately forced her to turn to drink.
In the suit seen by the Orange County Register, Stover claims golfers would routinely touch her and provide her with alcohol and drugs before later sending her sexually explicit text messages – all with the approval of management.
The golfers had her number after using it to place drink orders while out on the 128-acre course. After their games were done, members would continue to send her sexually explicit messages and ask to see her breasts, Stover says.
After she complained to her supervisor James Poper, and club manager Mitchel Queen, pictured, they effectively defended the behavior on the grounds that the golfers had paid a premium to become a members of the club
Stover accuses Poper of telling her that being objectified made her more money, and that the club members could treat employees however they wanted without repercussions, because of the amount they paid in membership fees.
‘[Stover] understood this to mean that members were allowed to treat Old Ranch employees however they wished without repercussion or recourse and that Old Ranch condoned, ratified, and even encouraged this conduct as part of its business model in order to churn a profit,’ the suit states.
Stover alleges that she was sexually harassed, battered, and assaulted by a club member, but her complaints were ignored.
She also claims Poper himself also contributed to the harassment by sending her sexually explicit messages including on one occasion asking what color underwear she was wearing.
Stover’s lawsuit claims that the Old Ranch Country Club condoned such behavior and put its profits ahead of its legal obligations to its employees
Stover began working for the club in April 2019 having moved from Washington state to Southern California
The suit details how when Stover brought her complaints to Queen’s attention, he confirmed that Poper had sexually harassed other female employees, but took no further action to stop him.
‘On each occasion, Queen merely confirmed that he was aware that Poper had sexually harassed other female Old Ranch employees and that his conduct was creepy. However, he took no action against Poper to cease this conduct,’ the suit states.
Stover began working for the club in April 2019 having moved from Washington state to Southern California.
As part of her duties, alongside providing refreshments to players she was also tasked with building relationships and helping to retain club members.
One golfer allegedly offered to pay Stover $300 to see her breasts, lifted her shirt in front of other club members, and forced her to drink by pushing her against a golf car and pouring alcohol on her
Stover would provide drinks to golfers while out on the links who would often grope her and ask her to lift up her shirt
But the warnings were already there as early as even during the job interview Poper asked her if she had a ‘thick skin’ and if she could ‘keep her mouth shut.’
She was even allegedly warned verbally by the previous beverage cart attendant that male members of the club would hit on her and attempt to force her to consume alcohol.
‘[Stover] wasn’t sure what to make of these comments at the time and merely brushed them off,’ the suit says.
Months after starting her job, Stover alleges how she was sexually harassed, battered and assaulted by one of the golfers.
The assault saw her being grabbed, shoved onto a golf car and where she was bent over in a sexual manner, all without consent.
‘[Stover] felt as though any further complaint regarding club members would ultimately fall on deaf ears and result in retaliation —including termination — as the atmosphere was that the club members’ wants outweighed legal obligations to its employees,’ the suit states.
One member tried to coax Stover into starting a sex toy business and sent her numerous articles and advertisements for sex toys
Another club member is accused of sending explicit text messages to Stover, kissing her, throwing money at her, and asking to move into a spare room above his garage
Fees at the club are believed to be close to $5,000 a year after a joining fee of up to $10,000
‘I was really scared and nervous, didn’t have any support, and was convinced they were not going to do anything,’ she told Southern California News Group.
Stover explains how she felt powerless in the situation because she needed the job and had no alternative but to continue to work at the club.
She detailed various examples of when male members overstepped boundaries with her in the suit, including how one man allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior towards her for eight months.
The member is accused of flirting with Stover, touching her legs and back without her consent, kissing her, and constantly texting her while she was at work.
The member also tried to coax Stover into starting a sex toy business and sent her numerous articles and advertisements for sex toys.
Another club member is accused of sending explicit text messages to Stover, kissing her, throwing money at her, and asking to move into a spare room above his garage.
Stover eventually resigned from the club and fell into depression, turning to alcohol to escape the trauma of the abuse. She now currently works as a yoga instructor
A third allegedly offered to pay Stover $300 to see her breasts, lifted her shirt in front of other club members, and forced her to drink by pushing her against a golf car and pouring alcohol on her.
A lawyer representing Stover said his client did not come forward sooner because she feared retaliation and being victimized again.
‘It’s damn egregious. When you are in management, you have to protect employees and have a duty to investigate complaints. Those at [the club] failed miserably and, in fact, doubled down,’ attorney Raymond Babaian said.
The complaint seeks compensation for underpayment of wages, as well as other wage-and-hour violations and compensation for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, negligent hiring and retention, intentional infliction of emotional distress and more.
Stover eventually resigned from the club and fell into depression, turning to alcohol to escape the trauma of the abuse. She now currently works as a yoga instructor.
DailyMail.com reached out to Stover for comment but did not get a response.