New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday that celebrity chef Mario Batali, his business partner Joe Bastianich, and their management group would pay 20 former employees $600,000 "for fostering a hostile work environment that permitted a sexualized culture of misconduct and harassment at their restaurants in New York City."
James said in a press release that Batali, Bastianich, and their management company B&B Hospitality would split the settlement up between the victims.
The news comes after her office conducted a four-year investigation into Batali, Bastianich, and B&B Hospitality at their restaurants Babbo, Lupa, and the now-closed Del Posto and found they violated state and city human rights laws.
Through the investigation, James said that between 2016 and 2019, the employees "witnessed or personally experienced unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching, and sexually explicit comments from managers and coworkers, and several female employees were forcibly groped, hugged, and/or kissed by male colleagues."
“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 news release. “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.”
James added that Batali, Bastianich, and the management company must revise training materials in all its restaurants. They must also submit biannual reports to the OAG to certify compliance with the agreement.