Kat Von D is being sued by one of her former employees who claims the controversial tattoo artist tried to have her staff “work illegally” during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
Stephanie Davidson, former manager of Von D’s now-closed High Voltage Tattoo shop, says she was fired two weeks after speaking to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the California Governor’s office about the lack apparent security measures in the store, according to Insider.
In a lawsuit filed this month, Davidson seeks unspecified damages. She claims to have faced retaliation and unlawful dismissal among other alleged wrongs from her former boss.
The complaint alleges that Von D secretly wanted to reopen his famous West Hollywood shop before tattoo parlors were allowed to resume operations in California. This would have violated stay-at-home orders in the state at the time.
“Today the hair salon is open and I don’t understand why we can’t open,” Von D reportedly said in a post shared with her employees. “I can’t sit idly by and let the high voltage die, and I have to get back to work even if it’s just for dates at the moment.”
Davidson alleges that Von D – who has previously denied being an anti-vaxxer – “wondered if the pandemic was real” in text messages sent to High Voltage staff during the lockdown.
She also claims that Von D “dismissed” concerns about safety protocols when reopening. Von D reportedly refused to wear a mask, said the same to his staff and compared wearing a mask to putting a “maxi pad on your face”.
Davidson claims that when the store was allowed to reopen, Von D was uninterested in safety and did little to appease worried employees.
The complaint also alleges that Von D complained about an employee who she said was experiencing “a state of fear based on the mainstream media narrative” about the pandemic.
Davidson’s lawyers say Von D put profits before safety in a statement shared with Insider.
“She intentionally and unlawfully ignored state laws and regulations created to protect both workers and the public,” the attorneys said. “No matter what a business owner believes, you can’t ignore the law and force employees to choose between risking their health or keeping their jobs. When you do, there are consequences. She will be held responsible for his malicious acts.”
Representatives for Von D did not return Insider’s requests for comment. As of press time, it does not appear that she has spoken publicly about the lawsuit.
High Voltage Tattoo has since been closed
In late 2021, Kat Von D announced plans to shut down High Voltage and permanently relocate to Indiana, where she now owns a historic and apparently haunted mansion. The store officially closed on December 1.
While the company’s website is still up and running, High Voltage has been silent on social media for weeks.
In the store’s latest Instagram post, dated Dec. 2, Von D thanked his team, new and old, for their dedication to the business over the years.
“I personally want to thank my fellow artists and shop managers who I had the chance to work with and who became my family of tattoo artists during these beautiful years,” she wrote in a caption accompanying a photo of her posing with the then-current roster of artists.
“Thank you for showing me what it is to be truly loved and supported. I will love you until the end of time,” she added.
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