Chef Mario Batali and ex-partner reach $600K settlement with sexual harassment victims

Celebrity chef Mario Batali and former partner Joseph Bastianich have reached an agreement to pay $600,000 to more than 20 employees who were sexually harassed at their restaurant, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday.

According to James, a four-year investigation revealed an atmosphere at the now defunct men’s eateries Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto, in which women were forced to endure accusations. about sex, groping and being kissed against their will.

A male manager told an employee she should get a breast implant and Batali once grabbed a waitress’ hand and pulled it towards his crotch, the investigation found. The attorney general added that women are also regularly adopted for promotion. According to the investigation, at least one male employee complained about being forced to watch pornographic videos that made him uncomfortable.

‘Celebrity and popularity do not exempt someone from following the law.’

– Letitia James, Attorney General of New York

When company officials complained, they were frequently fired and no action was taken, the investigation found.

“Celebrity and popularity do not condone someone following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable to anyone, anywhere – no matter how powerful the perpetrator,” James said.. “Batali and Bastianich allow for an intolerable work environment and allow shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any context.”

Messages sent to lawyers for Batali and Bastianich were not immediately returned.

After allegations from employees began to surface in 2017 as the #MeToo movement began to emerge, Batali quit his restaurant empire. In 2019, Batali was acquired from the business by his partners, Pasta Resources, LLC, formerly known as Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.

The group isn’t the only restaurant business rocked by a sexual harassment scandal. Manhattan’s the Spotted Pig reached a similar settlement with the attorney general’s office in 2020 to compensate certain employees for harassment and split them 20% of all future profits from the business. business or from a sale. The restaurant closed soon after.

At its peak, the Batali & Bastianich group consisted of dozens of restaurants and food businesses in the United States, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong. After the scandal, some closed overseas. Earlier this year, the group closed its flagship Del Posto store in Manhattan.

Batali also sold his minority stake in Eataly, an Italian high-end food chain.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the company has agreed to revise its training processes and submit a biannual report to the attorney general’s office on its compliance.

Related: How much does sexual harassment at work cost in a lifetime? A new study estimates up to $1.3 million

See more: Harvey Weinstein accusers could end up paying a hefty tax bill for any settlement | Chef Mario Batali and ex-partner reach $600K settlement with sexual harassment victims


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