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Woodside: Ex-employees sue Filoli estate, allege age discrimination

Original post made on Apr 26, 2017

Four women recently employed at the Filoli estate in Woodside have sued their former employer, alleging age discrimination among other unlawful and unfair employment and business practices.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 10:58 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2017 at 12:52 pm

pearl is a registered user.

If these allegations are true, then I suggest people boycott Filoli until the situation is rectified.

Posted by Laura
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 26, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Boycotting sounds like guilty till proven innocent. Count me out on that action!

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2017 at 3:09 pm

pearl is a registered user.


I said "if".


Posted by gordyvon
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Easy, easy. Before rushing to judgment, consider the premise that this may be a lawyer instigated fishing expedition. Amazing how some people want to throw the reputation of a venerated local institution out the window at the drop of an unsubstantiated claim. Plenty of time for boycotts if this proves to be true...

Posted by Alice
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 26, 2017 at 3:39 pm

"Filoli spokeswoman Lori Stone would not address the specific allegations but did say that "Filoli is focusing on filling open positions with diverse professionals, including a keen interest in age diversity.""
Oh, that's blatant discrimination! .... I'll hire you only if you fit my current age goal. (So she gets rid of several older women?) Diverse professional---what exactly does that mean? . . Does it mean that: I'll hire my choice, quota, of 'what' or 'whom'? For example, if I need to hire an Asian, I'll hire an Asian regardless of who is the best qualified. Good grief!

Posted by Patti
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 26, 2017 at 4:31 pm

This following on the heels of insurance fiasco. I'd let my membership expire and chose not to renew it after that. But, I just recently reupped. I wish I'd saved my money. I am an older (58) landscape professional and it makes me angry that people think we're incapable of doing physical labor. I can assure if they lose this case, I'll never give them my money again.

Posted by Reet
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 26, 2017 at 5:23 pm

As a former Filoli volunteer and former Filoli Staff member, I can assure you this is not a fishing expedition.

Posted by Zinnia
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2017 at 5:36 pm

The Filoli Board seems to be doing a poor job in recruiting Directors being 0 for 6. The Directors seem to either be deficient in people skills or money raising skills but mostly the former. Some Directors seem to be quite the bulldozers plowing right over top of people with their own agendas. The last few have done a great job of ignoring or p***ing off the volunteers. Someone in the administration seems to have said it's ok to bully people and not say thank you.

Posted by Nancy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 26, 2017 at 5:43 pm

As a former docent and several years as a member, I believe every word of the suit. I know these women and they would not have left Filoli unless they were forced . The staff that remains are also asked to do the impossible. Ms. Newport has worked in a state that apparently approves of this behavior. The Board of Governors are responsible for her actions. Ms. Newport works for them.
On a personal note, I am saddened to see the faces of the staff members and volunteers. Many of both are disgruntled. Ms. Newport simply is out of her depth as was Cynthia before her. But even the prior ED didn't humiliate or discriminate during her short tenure. Ms. Newport has disgraced the memory of both the Roth's and the Bourne's who not only were exceptional stewards of the land , the house and the gardens, but treated all who worked for them with consideration ( the Upstairs wing ) and respect.
Filoli is a human place, given to the National Trust (with an endowment) to preserve and protect and share with everyone. Ms. Newport and her team have done exactly what these ladies say she did.
No question of guilt...

Posted by Dolly
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm

Linda Fujimoto is the genius behind the Holiday Traditions event that has been so well received by the members and larger community for many years. A huge, successful hit for Filoli. I always found her to be highly professional and pleasant. She had the ability to keep all the details in her head while juggling many priorities. Anyone who has been in the garden shop or attended Holiday Traditions has witnessed her merchandising expertise. To hear that she has been terminated is shocking. I can't imagine what reason could have possibly warranted her discharge. I just shake my head wondering how such hostility and negativity continue to plague the peaceful energy of that beautiful property.

Posted by Arcadia Conrad
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:56 am

My grandmother was a docent at Filoli for many years. She volunteered there in the 70's through the early 90's and was in her own late 70's when she left! She and her fellow volunteers were incredibly active in all seasons, creating an amazing Christmas bazaar and crafting some of the herb mixes Filoli still sells in its gift shop! To disregard the contribution of elders is a huge mistake on Filoli's part

Posted by A Filoli member
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm

I cannot comment on this lawsuit, but I smelled a rat when I saw Ms. Newport's sizable "glamour shot" photo displayed in the member newsletter with her first welcome message. I initially gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking this was a misguided way to introduce herself to the Filoli community, but I have continued to see that photo in recent newsletters. It gives the impression that she owns the property now. (Perhaps she thinks so?)

[Please comment without personal attacks.]

Posted by Diane
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

The way Linda Fujimoto was treated and fired by the director at Filoli was disrespectful and shocking. Linda was the most dedicated employee and created the most amazing holiday tradition, she took it to a new level and her treatment by the director was disgusting.

Posted by Ivan
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Just saying I've seen some changes but honestly Filoli not changed. I love the longer hours and new events, I hear Filoli open all year now so I am happy to visit and see it in all seasons. I see many "old people" working in black badge and volunteering in green badge. I say old as older than me but not disrespectful. Hard to believe that ladies were fired for old age as everyone at Filoli is so nice and grateful when I go a few times a year including the "old people". I went few weeks ago on a weekend so many people taking in Filoli it was beautiful. No place like it. If lawsuit is true I am sure changes will be made but I believe innocent until proven guilty like Laura. I hope those who judge on alegations are judged that way themselves when they are put in the spotlight. Truly a special treasure in the Bay Area.

Posted by liz
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

The ongoing problems at Filoli make me wonder what else is going on in the background to stir up trouble. Filoli is a very desirable piece of real estate which I'm sure some Machiavellian developer would like to get his or her hands on.

Posted by Former member
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Absolutely believe!! Have a relative that's a current docent, (not for long)they treat them terrible. Has been worse with new regime☹️

Posted by Tara
a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I can not comment on the lawsuit though over the past fifteen or so years I've seen Filoli go through some changes.

I visited Filoli yesterday and left disappointed due to a huge film crew and equipment that blocked a popular part of the gardens for a commercial shoot. And on a busy Saturday! I feel Filoli is headed in a much different direction these days.

Posted by EMERITUS-Engaged!
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

Indeed, the changes are felt!
Once upon a time when entering the gate one experienced a peaceful aura. Today the emphasis is on events & commercial expansion. Certainly not what Mrs. Roth or the Bourn family envisioned for their treasured property.

And now the unrest and expense of a lawsuit. Sad if the claim has merit.

Posted by Filoli volunteer
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2017 at 5:55 pm

I know Gina and am very sad that this is happening to her. She did a great job in the office, really cared about visitors and volunteers at Filoli, and was very loyal. I can't imagine why they would fire her, but her replacements aren't doing nearly as good a job.

For a long time, management was content to let us do our jobs. Two years ago, without warning, they hit us with the volunteer agreement, which mostly said they had no liability if anything bad should happen to us while we were there. And then, four months ago, they restricted our activities, requiring us to pay $75 to lead a group, in addition to each member of the group paying admission. I had taken friends there who paid; some even became members, but now I'll probably take them to parks and open space preserves in the area, because I can't afford to pay $75 to show Filoli to my friends.

While I realize that it takes a lot of money to run Filoli, this pettiness directed towards employees and volunteers will eventually cause problems. At the very least, it means that those of us who love it will lose our enthusiasm. With over 1000 volunteers, Filoli runs on good will and present management is spoiling it.

Posted by Former Volunteer
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 3, 2017 at 6:10 pm

I also knew Gina and what a wonderful asset she was to all who were employed, volunteered or visited Filoli. Many changes have been made over the past few years . It began with unfair treatment of volunteers as well as some employees but apparently continues. There have been many hidden ongoings that Members and Visitors are not aware. I was saddened to see the direction Filoli was going a few years ago but could only hope the changes were in the best interest . I gave my time as a volunteer , have never had conflict in jobs or relationships but was treated with lack of respect and dignity .

Posted by Gracie
a resident of Encinal School
on May 3, 2017 at 6:20 pm

I've been a Filoli volunteer for 18 years. I witnessed the way Linda Fujimoto was treated. Linda did a fantastic job as buyer for 10 years. She worked diligently to make the retail side of Filoli profitable. Her taste and energy and mild manner are impeccable.
This problem can be laid at the feet of the 37 members of the Board of Directors
Mrs. Roth's wish was for Filoli to be a home that would be enjoyed by the public has been ignored to benefit a small number of people who wish to be aligned with a prestigious and exclusive entity to bolster their own feeling of importance.
I have seen the administrative staff swell wit each new Director, while the maintenance, garden employees have gone without a raise for 10 years.
I am sorry that it is Filoli itself that will be hurt by this suit but perhaps some of the wrongs that have been done can be righted.

Posted by Karla
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2017 at 7:19 am

I agree that volunteers need to let go of the tired rants about the volunteer agreement. I've been volunteering for several organizations in past six years, and ALL have required a signed agreement.

Posted by TruthFollowingHer
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 4, 2017 at 7:51 pm

TruthFollowingHer is a registered user.

Has anyone inquired into Ms. Newport's leadership at the botanical garden in North Carolina? I think the public and court would be very interested in learning her management style as well as the numbers of staff who resigned or were fired during her 10 years there. From what I've been told, there's been well over 40 full-time and part-time staff changes in her tenure there. Their current website shows a staff of only about 20-25. Who doesn't vet their new hires? Clearly the board again has egg on its face now with a PR and legal nightmare...

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: 704-825-4490 or [email protected]

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