(NEW YORK) — Chef Mario Batali and his former partner Joe Bastianich violated state and city human rights laws with a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination at restaurants they owned, the New York attorney general said Friday announcing a settlement.
The company, formerly known as the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, agreed to pay $600,000 to at least 20 former employees who were sexually harassed while they worked at the famed restaurants Babbo, Lupa or Del Posto.
“Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere — no matter how powerful the perpetrator,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement. “Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting.”
This agreement comes after a four-year investigation, the attorney general’s office said, looking at allegations between 2016 and 2019 that included unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching and sexually explicit comments from managers and coworkers, in addition to forcible groping, hugging and kissing by male colleagues.
The investigation also included accusations of sexual harassment by Batali of servers.
The investigation also looked into instances of discrimination, as female employees said chefs and managers supported male employees and made misogynistic comments, including commenting on women employees’ appearances.
The agreement includes $600,000 going to at least 20 former employees. It also includes revising training at B&B restaurants to be more comprehensive and encourage “a safe, healthy work environment,” the attorney general’s office said.
Batali has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women. In 2019, he “fully divested” from the restaurants that made him famous. Before that, he had apologized and stepped away from day-to-day business responsibilities.
In 2019, he pleaded not guilty to an indecent assault and battery charge stemming from an alleged 2017 incident with a woman in a Boston restaurant.
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