NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an agreement with celebrity chef Mario Batali, restaurateur Joseph Bastianich, their management company B&B Hospitality, and their restaurants Babbo, Lupa, and the closed Del Posto for fostering a hostile work environment that allowed a sexualized culture of misconduct and harassments at their restaurants. The agreement will pay $600,000 to survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination owned by the celebrities.
Following allegations of sexual harassment against Batali in 2017, the Office of the Attorney General had opened an investigation against B&B, Batali, and Bastianich which found that they had engaged in unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation which is against the state and city human rights laws.
“Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere — no matter how powerful the perpetrator,” Attorney General James said in a press release.
“Throughout the course of my employment at Del Posto, I endured constant, escalating sexual harassment,” former server Brianna Pintens said. “Management routinely ignored these behaviors, made excuses for the perpetrators, and often used victim blaming as a way to avoid having to deal with a workplace culture rooted in fear and humiliation.”
Female employees specifically made complaints that chefs and managers favored male employees and made misogynistic comments degrading women in the workplace including making comments about the female’s appearance, being told to wear make-up, and told to get breast implants.
“When my female coworkers and I were being sexually harassed by multiple people at Del Posto, the restaurant’s leadership made us feel as if we were asking for it — as if it is a rite of passage to be harassed at work,” a former line cook at Del Posto, Juliana Imperati, said.
The manager had also referred to female employees in front of customers as “little girl” and “sensitive,” and said that “females should not work in the mezzanine,” which was a main part of the restaurant.
In addition to paying $600,000 to the workers, the agreement also mandates the revision of training materials in all B&B restaurants, as well as biannual reports to certify compliance with the agreement. Bali, Bastianich and B&B have all agreed to implement more comprehensive training aimed towards fostering a safe, healthy work environment.
They will also be required to submit reports twice a year to the Office of the Attorney General to certify compliance with the settlement including records of harassment and discrimination trainings and policies for the next three years.