Actress Elizabeth Taylor is being sued by her former landscape gardener for breach of contract and sex discrimination in a bizarre case involving a butler and a Disneyland-like jungle at the star’s Bel Air mansion.
In a lawsuit filed on Monday in Los Angeles, Willem Van Muyden is seeking unspecified damages for being fired by the actress without being paid $294,000 he says are owed him for 10 years of gardening work. The damages he is seeking are for emotional distress, the lawsuit said.
Lawyers for the 71-year-old Taylor said on Wednesday the lawsuit was “a work of complete fiction” and added that the actress planned to counter-sue for malicious prosecution.
The lawsuit accuses Taylor of sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination, wrongful dismissal and breach of oral contract in the September 2002 firing of Van Muyden.
Van Muyden, who created a Disneyland jungle-style garden at the request of Taylor, claims he was fired because he rejected the sexual advances of the actress’s French butler.
Van Muyden claims that Taylor’s butler, Jean-Luc Lacquement, 33, grabbed him in the testicles and proclaimed his love for the gardener during an encounter in Taylor’s kitchen two months earlier.
“Van Muyden …. believes and alleges that (Elizabeth) Taylor, at the request and/or suggestion of Jean-Luc, intentionally fired plaintiff in retaliation because of his rejection of the sexual assault,” the lawsuit says.