Former bartender receives $300K settlement in sexual harassment lawsuit against a Rancho Santa Fe country club


A former bartender at a prestigious Rancho Santa Fe country club will receive $300,000, in addition to $196,000 in attorney fees and costs, to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed last summer.

Kirsten Tiger, who bartended at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe from 2017 to 2022, filed a complaint in Superior Court alleging that she was subject to sexual harassment by multiple club members and a security guard.

(San Diego Union Tribune Community Press file photo)

According to the complaint, Tiger was 24 when she began working at The Bridges in 2017. Allegations include one member offering her $30,000 for sex, another who texted her naked pictures of himself and asking to “hook up,” and another who offered to be her sugar daddy, according to descriptions of the text messages included in the complaint.

“We are deeply gratified to know that we were able to hold The Bridges accountable for the deplorable way they treated Ms. Tiger,” said Jeffrey Hogue, one of Tiger’s attorneys. “Hopefully, this lawsuit will bring about positive change in the work environment of The Bridges as well as positive change in how the members treat the staff that serves them.”

Hogue said there was also a separate confidential settlement for wage and hour arbitration, stemming from additional allegations over her compensation.

After both sides agreed to the settlement, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Cynthia A. Freeland ruled in favor of Tiger’s petition for attorney fees and costs on June 23.

Stephen Gibson, CEO of The Bridges, told the Rancho Santa Fe Review last year that the club was taking the allegations “very seriously” and had hired a third party “to conduct a neutral investigation.” Tiger was interviewed in October 2022 and February 2023 as part of that investigation, according to court documents filed by The Bridges.

In an email on June 24, Gibson said: “The Bridges Club respectfully declines to comment” on the settlement.

In March, Freeland denied a petition by The Bridges to have Tiger and the club work out the allegations in arbitration, which would have bypassed the court.

The argument over whether the case belonged in arbitration centered around a recently enacted federal law known as the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, signed by President Joe Biden in March 2022. The law allows employees to file lawsuits against their employers for sexual assault and sexual harassment, whereas previously they might have been legally bound to settle those allegations in arbitration.

Jessica B. Yang, an attorney representing The Bridges, argued in a March 10 court filing that the new federal law does not apply to this case because the alleged sexual harassment took place before it had been enacted.

But during a March 17 hearing, the judge declined to send the case to arbitration.

“Defendant’s argument that the Act does not apply because the complained-of sexual harassment did not arise or accrue on or after the Act’s enactment is not well taken,” Freeland wrote. “Given the Act’s relatively recent enactment, case law is still developing.”

The Bridges had successfully petitioned the court to postpone discovery, in which evidence and witnesses are presented, until after a ruling on the arbitration question. On April 28, about one month after Freeland’s ruling to keep the case in Superior Court, court documents show that both sides had agreed to the $300,000 settlement.