Chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich of B&B Hospitality Group will pay $600,000 to at least 20 former employees following a four-year investigation into claims that they engaged in unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation, said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere — no matter how powerful the perpetrator,” said Attorney General James, in a statement. “Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting. Every individual deserves to work in a safe environment, and today’s agreement marks one more step towards remedying workplace harassment. I thank the men and women who reported this abhorrent behavior for their bravery, selflessness, and commitment to accountability.”
The allegations included unwanted touching, sexual advances, and explicit comments made by managers and coworkers to other employees of the restaurants.
“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,” said Juliana Imperati, a former line cook at now closed restaurant Del Posto, in a statement. “Sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation should never be normalized in any industry or workplace. This settlement is an important step in holding the powerful accountable, and I thank Attorney General James for continuing to right the wrongs done to countless workers in the restaurant industry every single day.”
In addition to paying $600,000 to the workers, the agreement stipulates the revision of training materials in all B&B restaurants, as well as biannual reports to certify compliance with the agreement. Batali, Bastianich, and B&B have agreed to implement more comprehensive training geared towards fostering a safe, healthy work environment. They will also submit biannual reports to the OAG to certify compliance with this settlement, including records of harassment and discrimination trainings and policies for the next three years.
“Throughout the course of my employment at Del Posto, I endured constant, escalating sexual harassment,” said Brianna Pintens, a former server at Del Posto, in a statement. “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. While I can’t speak for the countless other victims who faced ongoing harassment and discrimination, I can say that my time working for B&B permanently tarnished my goals and passions for hospitality. I have immense gratitude for the Attorney General’s Office for believing us, taking us seriously, and giving hope that this industry is on its way to healing and repairing a deeply flawed history.”