Celebrity chef Mario Batali, who has run restaurants in Westchester and Fairfield counties ,is now under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office is investigating Batali and former business partner Joe Bastinanich, as she continues her probe into Kenneth Friedman’s The Spotted Pig restaurant and alleged sexual harassment at the former Manhattan hotspot.
According to James, since 2004, The Spotted Pig has “maintained a working environment where Friedman and other celebrity customers regularly made sexually explicit comments and gestures toward female staff members. On more than one occasion, Friedman forcibly kissed employees and pressured them to send him nude photos.”
This week, James announced that her office had reached a settlement with Friedman to pay out $240,000 to 11 former employees. The Spotted Pig will also pay those employees 20 percent of its profits over the next 10 years.
At a conference on Tuesday, Jan. 7, James noted that during her investigation into The Spotted Pig, new information has come to light that puts Batali in the hot seat, including a new investigation by the AG.
Batali has not been named in the primary investigation, into the allegations at The Spotted Pig because he was not a principal owner, just a key investor, but James said that additional information came to light that led to her office looking into his actions.
"As a result of our investigation, we have received credible information about his alleged actions and are therefore separately looking into him, his business partner, his management company and his three restaurants. We would like to encourage all of those individuals who are survivors of his abuse – his alleged abuse – and/or any witnesses to contact our hotline," James told reporters, according to WNBC.
In a statement last year, Batali denied any claims of misappropriation, saying, “I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.”
As part of the settlement, The Spotted Pig agreed to implement new policies that will require training for employees and managers on anti-sexual harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments.
“Every individual deserves to go to work free of fear, abuse, intimidation, and retaliation,” James stated. “I thank the women of The Spotted Pig for their bravery, their voices and their unwavering commitment to ensuring a safe, harassment-free workplace.
“No matter how high-profile the establishment, or how seemingly powerful the owners, today’s settlement reiterates the fact that we will not tolerate sexual harassment of any form in the workplace,” James added. “In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, victims of workplace harassment and discrimination are standing up and speaking out against injustices that have long been ignored.
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