Celebrity Chef Mario Batali & Joseph Bastianich to Pay $600K to victims of sexual harassment

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Mario Batali
Screenshot from Google Talks video on YouTube

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich reached an agreement to settle the sexual harassment and discrimination charges against them.

Batali, Bastianich, and their management company Pasta Resources doing business as B&B Hospitality agreed to pay $600,000 to victims of sexual harassment and discrimination at their restaurants in New York City.

The settlement agreement ends the four-year investigation into allegations that Batali and Bastianich fostered a hostile work environment that allowed sexual harassment and discrimination at Babbo, Lupa, and the now-closed Del Posto restaurants. Their actions violated the human rights laws of the city and state of New York.

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The New York Attorney General’s Office started investigating the allegations against Batali Bastianich, and their management company in 2017. During that year, the #Me Too Movement exploded. Batali was among the celebrities accused of sexual harassment.

In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere — no matter how powerful the perpetrator. Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting.”

Juliana Imperati, a former line cook at Del Posto said, “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.”

She added, “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.”

Brianna Pintens, a former server at Del Posto also commented that she “endured constant, escalating sexual harassment” during her employment at the restaurant.

According to Pintens, “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.”

Imperati and Pintens expressed their gratitude to New York Attorney General Letitia James for her dedication in holding the powerful accountable for their wrongdoings.

Mario Batali sexually harassed employees

Multiple employees personally experienced or witnessed inappropriate touching, unwanted sexual advances, and sexually explicit comments by Batali, restaurant managers. and co-workers.

“Several female employees were forcibly groped, hugged, and/or kissed by male colleagues. Batali himself sexually harassed a female server by making explicit comments to her and grabbing her hand while she was serving him and pulling it towards his crotch. On another occasion, Batali showed a male server at Lupa an unwelcome pornographic video,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Meanwhile, Batali told the New York Times, “The past few years have truly been a transformative period. Including the pandemic, there have been a lot of lessons learned over the past three and a half years, and it has given us an opportunity to redefine our business and the culture we want to foster within our restaurants, emerging as the company we want to be.”

In 2019, Batali exited the restaurant business. He sold all of his shares in B&B Hospitality to Bastianich and his sister Tanya Bastianich Manuali.