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Thomas Keller Cleared of Legal Wrongdoing in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

A jury found in favor of Keller, Per Se, and the French Laundry

Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller
Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

A jury has cleared fine-dining chef Thomas Keller and his restaurants the French Laundry and Per Se of any wrongdoing in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit from a former staffer.

The case — in which former manager Vanessa Scott-Allen alleged that she was pushed out of the company after becoming pregnant — wrapped up today after three weeks of testimony. Scott-Allen’s side tried to prove discrimination, while Keller’s side said it was about miscommunication, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Scott-Allen reportedly plans to appeal.

Scott-Allen alleged that she was approved for a transfer from Per Se to the French Laundry, but after the Napa restaurant found out she was pregnant, they rescinded the offer. Keller’s group argued successfully that she was not rehired for seeming “disingenuous around guests” — despite positive written performance reviews Scott-Allen had received at Per Se.

Despite the outcome in Keller’s favor, there were still some more incriminating findings, such as emails from former Per Se manager Michael Minnillo, who didn’t want to hire Scott-Allen in his newer role at the French Laundry. He reportedly commented on the appearance of female employees and called one of them “a raving bitch,” the Chronicle reports.

A statement said that Keller was “pleased” with the conclusion and called the suit “frivolous” and “a disservice to the very cause they are meant to further.” The statement ended by saying it had been a “trying ordeal” for them. Eater reached out to Scott-Allen’s lawyer, who was seeking more than $1 million in damages, for comment.

Update: June 27, 2019, 9:50 a.m.: This article was updated to include Scott-Allen’s reported plans to appeal.

Per Se

10 Columbus Circle, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 823-9335 Visit Website