Disgraced Chef Mario Batali has just been ordered to pay his victims over half a million dollars after it was determined that the famed restauranteur, his partner, and their management company fostered a hostile and sexualized work environment.
On Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that Batali, Joseph Bastianich, and B&B Hospitality were found to have fostered "a hostile work environment that permitted a sexualized culture of misconduct and harassment at their restaurants in New York City," including Babbo, Lupa, and the now-closed Del Posto.
James not only ordered Batali, Bastianich, and B&B to pay $600,000 to at least 20 former employees, but she also declared that they must revise their training materials in all B&B restaurants as well as submit biannual reports to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to certify compliance with today's settlement, including records of harassment and discrimination trainings and policies for the next three years.
Following the bombshell allegations of sexual harassment lobbied against Batali in 2017 – which included unwanted touching, sexual advances, and explicit comments made by managers and coworkers to other employees of the restaurants – the OAG launched an investigation and found that the chef, his partner, and their company had engaged in unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation, all of which was determined to be in violation of state and city human rights laws.
The OAG found that Batali, specifically, sexually harassed a female server by making explicit comments to her and grabbing her hand while she was serving him and pulling it toward his crotch. The investigation also revealed that he once showed a male server at Lupa an unwelcome pornographic video.
"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 James. "Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting. Every individual deserves to work in a safe environment, and today's agreement marks one more step towards remedying workplace harassment. I thank the men and women who reported this abhorrent behavior for their bravery, selflessness, and commitment to accountability."