Batali & Bastianich Agree to $600,000 Sexual Harassment Settlement

Batali & Bastianich Agree to $600,000 Sexual Harassment Settlement

Following the New York State attorney general’s investigation, the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group was described as a company where widespread harassment and retaliation were commonplace. After sexual-harassment attorneys were consulted and those involved interviewed, a $600,000 settlement was reached.

New York State Attorney General Cites Multiple Violations of Human Rights Laws

An investigation of the business built by Mario Batali, a famous chef, and Joe Bastianich, his former partner, revealed that the Manhattan restaurants had a sexualized culture full of harassment and retaliation. Letitia James, New York State’s Attorney General, made the announcement on Friday and spoke of a settlement brokered by her office. The company’s name, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, was changed to Pasta Resources after Batali sold his shares back to the Bastianich family.

The company will pay $600,000 to previous employees who worked at Del Posto, Lupa, or Babbo restaurants, and approximately 20 men and women were named in the suit. Details of the harassment were brought out through interviews and discussed on social media. The two owners allegedly created a misogynistic atmosphere where female employees endured being groped and kissed against their will and were regularly exposed to sexual comments.

Attorney General James said that one manager told waitresses to make changes in their appearance, even suggesting breast implants, and male colleagues discussed physical features of their female co-workers and told women to “get on their knees.”

In a statement to The New York Times, Attorney General James iterated that it is vital for all women in the hospitality industry to understand that being abused, assaulted, or sexually harassed is not normal simply because they are women. Rather, such activities take place because the people in power allow it to happen.

Investigations Began As the #MeToo Movement Hit an All-Time High 

News about Mario Batali’s sexually aggressive behavior came to the forefront during the 2017 investigation, which was also when the #MeToo movement was reaching an all-time high. By the end of 2017, Batali had taken a step back from the establishments he owned with business partner Bastianich and was also fired from his job as co-host of “The Chew,” an ABC cooking-themed talk show.

mario batali sexual harassment

Mario Batali Bought Out by Business Partner   

Bastianich and his sister bought Batali out in 2019 by purchasing his shares in the two men’s jointly owned restaurants, thus ending the 20-year business partnership. At its peak, Batali & Bastianich owned over 24 food businesses and restaurants in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Italy.

Although both men were named in the suit by sexual-harassment attorneys, Bastianich regularly minimized his personal role in the sexually charged atmosphere of the restaurants. Instead, he focused on publicity concerning Batali’s sexual misconduct. Bastianich made previous statements that indicated he was unaware of Batali’s sexually aggressive behavior, but witnessed him making inappropriate statements to employees. He said that although he occasionally criticized Batali, he “neglected his responsibilities” and “should have done more.”

No Action Taken After Reports of Sexual Harassment

Brianna Pintens, who was quickly promoted after being hired by the company, stated that the working atmosphere was rife with harassment, and female employees even made suggestions to each other on the best routes to use throughout the restaurant to avoid catcalls and inappropriate remarks from male employees. Pintens once reported harassment to a general manager, but was discouraged from filling out a report with human resources.

After having worked in the restaurant business for a long time, and having experienced similar scenarios in the past, Pintens stated that she was skeptical that any action would ever be taken. She expressed pleasure that there were finally consequences for those who harassed her and her co-workers.

New York Attorney General Letitia James encourages women to report sexual harassment immediately, and to seek legal advice as soon as possible, if they are being assaulted, harassed, or abused by employers or co-workers. Our employment attorneys in Orange County assist workers facing similar problems.

Activision Blizzard faces sexual harassment lawsuit from California state agency

Activision Blizzard faces sexual harassment lawsuit from California state agency

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Focus of Lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard

A California state agency has sued Activision Blizzard for sexual harassment and discrimination. Blizzard is a maker of popular video games, such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Guitar Hero. It is not known at this time whether employees have retained sexual harassment attorneys on their own.

Blizzard Entertainment

Department of Fair Employment and Housing Files Lawsuit

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) claims that Activision Blizzard’s workplace is rife with harassment and discrimination. After an investigation lasting two years, the DFEH filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit alleged that executives and other employees at Activision created a “frat boy” culture in the workplace. Claims made by the DFEH included sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, unequal pay between male and female employees, less opportunity for advancement for women, male employees drinking while on the job and even openly telling jokes on horrific topics such as sexual assault.

“Cube Crawls” Allegedly Occurred at Activision Blizzard

The DFEH alleges that discrimination and constant sexual harassment were endured by many female employees. The agency described situations where women had to continuously defend themselves against unwanted sexual advances, comments, and were even subjected to “cube crawls,” which essentially consisted of male employees going from one cubicle to the next attempting to grope female employees and engage in verbal harassment. It is also alleged that this type of behavior took place at company events.

One Case of Suicide Potentially Tied to Harassment

The lawsuit also claims that a female employee’s suicide was, at least in part, the result of a sexual relationship she was having with her male supervisor. Prior to her suicide, colleagues were alleged to have shared explicit photos of her, presumably acquired from the man with whom she was having sexual relations.

DFEH Alleges Activision’s HR Department Failed to Address Complaints

Bloomberg Law reported the lawsuit previously and stated that the company’s human resources department and its executives failed to address complaints and allegations of sexual harassment. It is unclear how many complaints were filed with Activision’s HR.

Accusations Denied by Company

Activision Blizzard prepared a statement in which a company spokesperson said the DFEH’s description does not match the company’s current climate. The statement went on to say that employees have undergone anti-harassment training for many years and that a confidential hotline to report harassment was made available.

The company also claimed that the State of California did not appropriately discuss the accusations with them before suing and expressed its dismay at the agency for referencing the female employee’s suicide. A spokesperson for them also said that the DFEH’s behavior in the matter was irresponsible and claimed that many California businesses are leaving for other states after being targeted by state agencies. The DFEH declined to respond to Activision’s statement.

Lawsuit Demands Unpaid Wage Compensation and Punitive Damages

According to the DFEH, one of the goals of the lawsuit is to obtain compensation for female employees who were paid less than their male co-workers for the same job. This is an issue for which some people seek the advice of employment lawyers. In addition, punitive damages were requested for those who were allegedly harassed. The gaming company is based in Santa Monica, California, and employs approximately 10,000 people. Its net worth is estimated at $70 billion.

Discrimination and Harassment Accusations Common in Gaming Industry

Accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment are common in the gaming industry. Some believe this is because such companies are primarily run by white males. Employment attorneys in Orange County should be consulted by those who believe they are being discriminated against or sexually harassed.