A confidential settlement has been reached in a lawsuit accusing Filoli of age discrimination and other violations of employment law.
Jay Strauss, the attorney representing four former Filoli employees in the case, filed papers on Dec. 27 dismissing the San Mateo County Superior Court case.
"The case was settled to the parties' 'mutual satisfaction' that's all I or any of the parties can say," Mr. Strauss said.
Filoli Executive Director Kara Newport said the lawsuit "has been resolved to mutual satisfaction and at Filoli we are eager to look toward our very bright future!"
The court filing says the case is dismissed "with prejudice," which means it cannot be filed again, and that all parties will "bear their own fees and costs."
The original case was filed in April on behalf of four women who had been fired or forced out of their Filoli jobs within six months of the September 2016 arrival of Ms. Newport as executive director of the historic estate, located on Canada Road a few miles north of Woodside.
The lawsuit says the actions taken toward the women "were done in a deliberate, cold, callous, malicious, despicable, and intentional manner in order to injure and damage" them. It had asked for an unspecified sum for lost wages and benefits, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs, and back wages for two of the women.
Filoli's response to the lawsuit denied all allegations and said the women were not "injured or damaged in any way as the result of any act or omission" of Filoli. It said the lawsuit should be dismissed for reasons including not meeting the statute of limitations, and that Filoli was acting in good faith for nondiscriminatory business reasons.
In October, Mr. Strauss told the Almanac that Filoli had made a settlement offer "which was woefully inadequate," but that both parties had agreed to participate in voluntary mediation in November.
The lawsuit says Linda Fujimoto, then 66, had worked at Filoli for more than 10 years. She was about to retire when she was, according to the lawsuit, "forced out" on Nov. 28, 2016.
Ms. Fujimoto was the retail manager and buyer for Filoli's garden shop, and coordinator and buyer for the annual "Holiday Traditions" event when she was fired. The event was mid-way through its annual nine-day holiday run, which brought sell-out crowds to the historic estate, when Ms. Fujimoto was asked to leave. She was replaced by a 46-year-old, the lawsuit says.
Alyssa Gillooley, then 55, had worked for Filoli for 18 months and was Ms. Newport's administrative assistant when she quit rather than be fired on Nov. 4, 2016. She was replaced by a 22-year-old, the lawsuit says.
Donna Kenison, then 57, had worked for Filoli for nearly nine years and was the manager of member and volunteer services when she was "forced to resign" on Jan. 5, 2017. She was replaced by a 25-year-old, the lawsuit says.
Gina Rossi, then 61, had also worked for Filoli for nearly nine years. She was the visitor services lead when she was fired on Feb. 16, 2017. Ms. Rossi was replaced by a 30-year-old, the lawsuit says. In addition to age discrimination, the lawsuit alleged, Filoli discriminated against Ms. Rossi because of "physical disabilities."
"Defendant retaliated against Rossi for her complaints about the failure to accommodate her disability by terminating her employment," the lawsuit says.
The suit also alleges that Filoli did not pay Ms. Kenison for all the hours she worked and wrongly classified her as "exempt" from overtime rules.
Ms. Newport, Filoli's sixth executive director in 12 years, had previously headed the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in North Carolina. She replaced Cynthia D'Agosta, who left after three years as executive director.
The historic Filoli estate is a destination for both tourists and locals. The house on the estate is home to a collection of 17th and 18th century English antiques, and the grounds feature gardens, an orchard, trails and a nature preserve. Hundreds of local volunteers help keep the bucolic estate operational.