West Hollywood

Former KatVonD Tattoo Store Manager Ties Firing to COVID Health Concerns

Kat Von D inks tattoo on client
Getty Images

Kat Von D is being sued by the ex-manager of her former High Voltage Tattoo store in West Hollywood, who alleges she was wrongfully fired in 2020 for expressing concerns about her boss' alleged disregard for coronavirus mandates and health concerns.

Plaintiff Stephanie Davidson's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations include wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, failure to provide reasonable accommodation and various state Labor Code violations.

Davidson seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit
brought Tuesday.

A representative for Von D could not be immediately reached. Von D's real name is Katherine Von Drachenberg and she is the former longtime girlfriend of 52-year-old reality television personality Jesse James, the founder of West Coast Choppers.

In 2017, Von D hired Davidson as the manager of her popular West Hollywood tattoo shop, High Voltage Tattoo, a Los Angeles hot spot that ceased operating in March 2020 due to the coronavirus, the suit states. Three months later, California began to reopen nonessential personal care businesses and although Davidson wanted to ensure everyone's safety, her concerns were quickly dismissed by Von D, who ''made it clear to Ms. Davidson and other employees that she refused to enforce any of the mandate rules, including the use of face coverings, and continued to go as far as dismissing the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole,'' according to the complaint.

Von D asked one employee who wore a mask, ``You're going to wear a maxi pad on your face?'' and also told another worker that the person's choice to don a face covering was influenced by ``a state of fear based on mainstream media narrative,'' the suit states.

Davidson, who is diabetic, did not feel safe enough to return to work after the June 2020 reopening and unsuccessfully tried to reason with Von D regarding her ``extremist views on COVID-19 safety precautions,'' the suit states. The plaintiff later conveyed her health concerns about High Voltage Tattoo to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and to Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, the suit states.


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Despite a second shutdown order announced in July 2020 for indoor personal care establishments, High Voltage Tattoo ``remained illegally open,'' the suit states. That same month, Von D  retaliated against Davidson by firing her because she disclosed information to authorities about High Voltage Tattoo's alleged noncompliance with local, state or federal health rules, the suit alleges.

"Ms. Davidson enjoyed her work and was devastated by losing her job and livelihood,'' the suit states.

Von D also failed to pay Davidson a minimum hourly wage or pay her the overtime rate, the suit alleges.

Last October, Von D announced she was closing High Voltage Tattoo, which was featured on the TLC reality show "LA Ink," and moving with her family to Indiana.

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