Celebrity chef Mario Batali and his business partner have agreed to pay $600,000 dollars to at least 20 former employees after an investigation found their Manhattan restaurants were rife with sexual harassment.
That’s according to New York Attorney General Letitia James who said in a statement that the culture of unwanted groping, kissing, hugging, sexual advances and explicit comments at his restaurants Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto broke New York human rights laws.
According to the settlement, the attorney general's probe found that Batali himself grabbed a female server's hand and pulled it towards his crotch, and that he showed a male server an "unwelcome" pornographic video.
Male managers at the restaurants made crass sexual comments, told female employees to wear make-up and insinuated to some of them that they should get breast implants.
Some were told they could not be promoted to captain because they were a "girl."
Batali could not immediately be reached for comment, but told the New York Times he would not be publicly discussing the settlement.
In 2018, Batali denied any allegations of sexual assault, but apologized for behavior that he acknowledged had been "deeply inappropriate."
Prosecutors in Boston a year later separately charged Batali with forcibly groping and kissing a woman at a restaurant. He has pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set.
After waiters and other workers came forward with complaints, Batali sold his stake in his restaurants in 2019. Del Posto closed this past April.