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State Attorney General Reaches $600,000 Settlement in Batali and Bastianich Sexual Harassment Investigation

The state’s investigation found that Batali, Bastianich, and their restaurants engaged in harassment and discrimination that violated city and state human rights laws

Celebrity chef Mario Batali leaves Boston Municipal Court following an arraingment on a charge of indecent assault and battery in connection with a 2017 incident at a Back Bay restaurant on May 24, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mario Batali
Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images

New York State attorney general Letitia James announced on Friday that chef Mario Batali, restaurateur Joe Bastianich, and the restaurant group formerly known as B&B Hospitality, has been ordered to pay $600,000 to at least 20 former restaurant employees as part of a settlement reached in the office’s investigation into sexual harassment and discrimination claims against the group. The New York Times first reported the news.

The attorney general’s investigation found that Batali, Bastianich, and the restaurant group — which includes Babbo, Lupa, and shuttered fine dining spot Del Posto — had engaged in sex discrimination and retaliation that violated city and state human rights laws, according to the office’s announcement. As previously reported, restaurant employees alleged in the state’s investigation that the restaurants were rife with sexual harassment by managers and coworkers, including “unwanted touching, sexual advances, and explicit comments.”

“Throughout the course of my employment at Del Posto, I endured constant, escalating sexual harassment,” Brianna Pintens, a former server at Del Posto, said in a statement on the settlement announcement. “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.”

As part of the settlement, the restaurant group must also revise its training materials in all restaurants and submit biannual reports to the attorney general’s office — including “records of harassment and discrimination trainings and policies” — demonstrating compliance with the agreement for the next three years.

Sexual harassment allegations against Batali first were made public in 2017, when multiple women, including three former employees, alleged that the chef engaged in a pattern of harassment including inappropriate touching and making sexually explicit comments. In another report, dozens of former employees at the group alleged sexual misconduct across the company that took place for over a decade. Batali stepped down following the allegations, and, in 2019, financially divested from the restaurant group.

The attorney general’s office is still determining how many employees will receive payments from the settlement, and the amount of those payments, according to the Times. A similar settlement was reached in the case of former Spotted Pig restaurateur Ken Friedman, who agreed to pay $240,000 and share in the restaurant’s profits with 11 former employees who alleged sexual harassment and discrimination at the restaurant. Friedman shut down the restaurant the month of the settlement, cutting out employees from the profit-sharing. Still, former Spotted Pig server Trish Nelson, who was sexually harassed by Friedman and involved in the settlement, tells the Times: “Even though $20,000 over five years is laughable to most, it feels like $20 million to women like us.”

While the attorney general’s investigation has reached a settlement, Batali is still facing multiple civil lawsuits and a possible criminal trial, according to the Times. One of the lawsuits, filed by Natali Tene, in which Batali is accused of indecent assault and battery, is scheduled for a hearing on September 15.

  • Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich Fostered a ‘Boys’ Club’ Culture of Misconduct at Restaurants, Dozens Allege [Eater NY]
  • Mario Batali Steps Away From Restaurant Empire Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations [Eater NY]

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