Celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have agreed to a settlement with at least 20 former employees who alleged sexual harassment and retaliation related to their employment at three of the duo’s New York City restaurants.
B&B Hospitality, the management group owned by the two high-profile cooks, agreed to pay $600,000 to former employees at Babbo, Lupa, and Del Posto, which has since closed.
After a four-year investigation, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the agreement, saying that the probe found that B&B, Batali, and Bastianich had exhibited gender discrimination and retaliation tactics against the employees. The statement from the court agreement stated that these acts were in violation of state and city human rights laws.
The agreement also mandates that the business practices that allowed the behavior must be addressed. To that end, the court has called for adjustments to be made to training materials run by B&B. The company must also submit reports every six months to show that they are performing the training and keeping records of any incidents that run afoul of laws prohibiting sexual discrimination.
In announcing the agreement, Attorney General James thanked the men and women whose bravery in reporting the abuse helped her office to pursue the charges. The investigation showed that both men and women were targeted with inappropriate behavior and unwelcome attention. The attorney general’s review concluded that on several occasions, female employees were hugged, kissed, or groped by male colleagues without their consent, including an incident involving Batali himself pulling a female server’s hand toward his crotch and another in which Batali made a male server uncomfortable by showing him a sexually explicit video.
Complaints from female employees included favoritism for their male counterparts and being told to wear makeup or get breast implants. Some shared stories of being belittled in front of customers, being called a little girl, or referred to as being sensitive.
The plaintiffs also described a culture that sought to minimize their complaints by ignoring their reports of inappropriate behavior, making excuse for it, or blaming the victims themselves for the problem.
Batali has seen other repercussions for similar complaints in the past. In December 2017, He was removed from his role as host of The Chew, a cooking-themed talk show on ABC, after a report of sexual harassment claims were brought to light in food industry publication Eater New York. At the time, Batali admitted the bad behavior and apologized.
Other, more serious allegations brought in 2018 involved a woman who claimed Batali had drugged and sexually assaulted her 13 years earlier, but no charges were ever filed in that case.
Batali stands charged for allegedly kissing and groping a woman in 2017. Still awaiting a trial date in both a criminal and a related civil suit, he has contended he is innocent of the charges.
In the wake of the allegations against him, Batali has been relieved of his stake in B&B hospitality. He was bought out by Bastianich and his sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali. The pair intend to focus on repairing the reputation and culture of their business.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Represent the Interests of Clients Claiming Sexual Harassment at Work
If you were sexually harassed at work, you should be able to hold your employer accountable for not protecting you from the harassing behavior. Whether the offender is a supervisor or another staff member, your employer is legally obligated to maintain a safe and fair work atmosphere. The South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, can help you fight for your rights after being subjected to distressing and harmful behavior at work. We can support your claim for compensation for the damages you suffered because of sexually charged harassment in the workplace. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.