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Batali Sued for Discrimination by Former Pastry Chef, Claiming Managers Used Gay Slurs

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Isaac Franco Nava claims that managers called him “faggot”

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'Latin History For Morons' Opening Night Celebration
Mario Batali is being sued for discrimination
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

A former pastry chef at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s upscale Greenwich Village Italian restaurant Babbo has sued the company for discrimination — claiming that managers called him gay slurs and later conspired to fire him when he complained.

The Daily News reports that Isaac Franco Nava, who is of Mexican descent and openly gay, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday accusing two managers at Babbo of calling him “stupid Mexican,” derogatory Spanish slang for a homosexual “pajaro,” “girly,” and “faggot.”

The defendants include Babbo LLC, manager Adam Onady, coworkers Kevin Herbert and Juan Flores, B&B Hospitality Group LLC, and Pasta Resources Inc.

The lawsuit says that after four months of alleged abuse, Franco complained to Babbo’s head pastry chef, and human resources at Batali’s corporate office eventually disciplined the managers. But once the harassment started again in June 2016, complaints to management at the Batali empire did not lead to anything, the lawsuit alleges, according to the Daily News.

By April, Franco claims that his supervisors plotted to have him fired. He took home a raw pork chop for dinner and claims his managers OK’d it, but the next day, he was fired for theft, the lawsuit alleges. He is asking for unspecified damages and names Batali, Bastianich, some businesses, and co-workers in the suit.

“Babbo Restaurant and its owners and managers have failed to provide a safe work environment for our client,” Franco’s lawyer, Eric M. Baum of Eisenberg & Baum, LLP wrote to Eater. “Isaac is a proud member of the gay community and to be harassed profusely because of his sexual orientation, is completely unacceptable. Babbo has turned its head away from the extreme harassment experienced by Isaac only to fire him when he complained of it. No persons should ever have to go through what our client went through. Babbo’s company culture on how it treats its gay and Hispanic employees is disturbing. No employee should ever be subjected to this type of mistreatment.”

The Batali team declined to comment on the lawsuit in response to an email to Eater.

The sprawling Batali and Bastianich empire is no stranger to lawsuits, with most for unpaid wages as well as trouble with the New York State Liquor Authority.


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