The allegations of sexual misconduct against Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman may soon have some legal consequences: The New York Times reports that the New York attorney general has been investigating the restaurant for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, which is a civil rights violation.
A source told the Times that Barbara D. Underwood’s office issued a subpoena to the Spotted Pig and Friedman on Monday, seeking any records of Friedman’s alleged misconduct, such as nude photos or “descriptions of the attractiveness or sexual availability of employees and job applicants.” The attorney general also requested video footage of celebrity chef and Spotted Pig investor Mario Batali on the third floor, the so-called “rape room” where Batali’s alleged sexual assault took place, part of an ongoing NYPD investigation.
Friedman declined to comment to the Times. Friedman did not immediately respond to Eater’s request for comment. In a statement, Underwood said, “The law is clear: New Yorkers are entitled to workplaces free of sexual harassment, discrimination, and intimidation. Our office will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect New Yorkers – and if there’s culture of harassment and discrimination at a New York company, we want to know about it.”
The attorney’s general investigation in theory would lead to a civil lawsuit. The same office, then run by Eric Schneiderman, filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein for breaking the same civil rights law for which Friedman is being investigated. (Incidentally, Underwood stepped in as attorney general after Schneiderman was accused of sexual misconduct.)
In December, Friedman was accused of behavior such as groping staffers in public, asking for nude photos, attempted kisses, and creating an environment where employees felt they had to endure inappropriate sexual touching from guests, too. The allegations came just a day after Batali stepped away from his restaurant empire due to accusations of misconduct.
In Friedman’s split with longtime business partner April Bloomfield, the famed restaurateur kept the Spotted Pig — which reportedly remains busy despite the allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault that took place in the restaurant. He has also taken on new partners, the widely adored female chefs behind Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman.
Though Friedman is not under criminal investigation, a civil lawsuit could still have a huge impact on the business. Weinstein, for instance, was forced to delay the sale of his company after the attorney general’s lawsuit was filed; the company ultimately declared bankruptcy.