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 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.
The Guardian recently reported that the Noel Clarke saga is continuing at a rapid pace. Over 20 women have accused the British actor and screenwriter of bullying and sexual harassment dating back to 2004. Some of the most recent claims came from women who had worked on the set of the Doctor Who show from 2004 to 2019 and include sexual comments on the set, inappropriate touching, and bullying and aggressive behavior when his advances were not received well. Clarke played the role of Mickey Smith, a vehicle technician, in the series from 2005 to 2010.
Clarke Denies Allegations
Clarke has never changed his position. In a letter released by his sexual-harassment attorney, Clarke continues to zealously refute all allegations of wrongdoing, including any type of bullying or aggressive behavior. In a somewhat contradictory statement, he also said that he plans to seek professional help for his behavior.
Two weeks before Clarke was to receive a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (“BAFTA”) for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, multiple anonymous tips were received from the BBC from women alleging assault and sexual harassment in various ways, and in different professional settings. Since then, continuous allegations are being made, including statements made by crew members of the Doctor Who show who claim that Clarke has a history of this type of behavior.
John Barrowman, Fellow Doctor Who Actor, Also Accused of Sexual Harassment
During all the drama, sexual-harassment attorneys have discovered that another cast member of the show, actor John Barrowman, was also accused of harassing coworkers on two separate occasions during productions. Several coworkers claim Barrowman exposed himself to them during production. The report on Barrowman characterizes the incidents as “inappropriate pranks,” as opposed to sexually aggressive behavior. Barrowman himself described them in a statement as “tomfoolery” and insisted that his actions were never meant to be seen as sexual in nature. He also said he had no knowledge of the allegations against Clarke.
After the first accusations were made last week against Clarke, a video surfaced that showed him exchanging jokes with Barrowman concerning inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
BAFTA Had Prior Knowledge of Accusations
The original report established that BAFTA was aware of the sexual harassment allegations before they recently bestowed the award on Clarke. However, the organization said that they took no action because evidence was lacking and there was nothing to prompt their own investigation.
The BBC Responds
The BBC expressed their shock at the allegations and said that all of them will be investigated. They also encouraged any witnesses to speak to them concerning any type of inappropriate behavior they may have witnessed. The accusations against Clarke prompted 900 people to sign a letter demanding culture change in the workplace, and accusing the industry of turning a blind eye to harassers and predators who operate in plain view.
It is not yet known if the allegations against Clarke will be substantiated, or if any cases will go to trial. Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace should contact an employment attorney in Orange County for professional advice.
Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor, has been accused of sexual harassment by a former aide, who has referred to him as “a textbook abuser.” Cuomo’s former Health Policy Advisor and Executive Assistant, Charlotte Bennett, told CBS Evening News that the governor tried to proposition her for sex last spring, during what she described as a very uncomfortable encounter. She stated that she remembered thinking she needed to get out of the room as soon as possible because the governor was “propositioning [ … her] for sex.”
Bennett claimed it was one of many incidents in which Cuomo, who is 63 years old, acted inappropriately. Cuomo is facing similar charges from two other women. The former Chief of Staff of the Economic Agency in New York, Lindsey Boylan, said the governor inappropriately touched and kissed her during a private meeting. Another accuser, Anna Ruch, who, unlike the other two women, did not work for Cuomo, stated that he put his hand on her bare lower back in 2019 at a friend’s wedding.
Photo by Andrew Kelly – Reuters
Bennett Calls the Governor “a Textbook Abuser”
Bennett described Cuomo as “a textbook abuser” who allows his temper and anger to run the workplace, although she said he was very sweet to her for approximately a year. Bennett contends Cuomo only acted this way in the hopes of becoming more than her friend. Bennett claims the governor constantly questioned her about her history as a survivor of sexual assault and repeatedly asked questions about her current love life. She said that she believes abusers look for previous traumas or other vulnerabilities in those they target, as those who have such a history may view a harasser’s behavior as acceptable.
Bennett’s Attorney Contradicts Cuomo’s Statements
In a statement to Law and Crime, Debra Katz, Bennett’s sexual harassment attorney, alleged that Cuomo’s press conference was full of lies and inaccurate information, particularly when he stated that he never meant to harm anyone and that he was embarrassed to discover that he made anyone uncomfortable.
Katz went on to say that Bennett reported the alleged harassment immediately to the governor’s chief of staff and chief counsel, and she believes further investigation will prove that both failed to act in Bennett’s best interests and that this was a violation of their legal duty. The governor maintains whatever happened was not intentional on his part and he was unaware he was acting inappropriately.
Lindsey Boylan, who was first to come forward with sexual harassment allegations, tweeted to the governor asking him how the people of New York could trust him if he was unaware that he was being inappropriate with his own staff. Boylan accused the governor of harassment during multiple incidents over the course of two years, which included the governor kissing her on the lips without her consent.
All claims of sexual harassment are being investigated by Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General. Those who believe they have been victims of harassment, or who have been falsely accused of such activity, should consult an employment attorney in Orange County for advice and guidance.
Allegations of sexual harassment are once again dogging professionals in the world of sports. On Tuesday, multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior were made against Mickey Callaway, the former manager of the New York Mets. Callaway was expected to serve as the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels until his recent suspension.
Mickey Callaway – AP Photo/Greg Beacham
Bombshell Report of Alleged Sexual Harassment
The Athletic published a story on Monday in which five female journalists accused Callaway of a broad range of inappropriate behavior, from continuous lewd text messages to sharing shirtless photos and requesting explicit photos back from the women he was texting. He reportedly also offered to share baseball related information if a woman “got drunk” with him. These incidents allegedly took place when he was manager of the New York Mets.
Callaway was suspended by the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, and Marie Garvey, spokesperson for the team, said they plan to work with Major League Baseball in an ongoing investigation. She stated that the reported behavior violates the values and policies of the Angels Organization. MLB stated that they never knew about any accusations against Callaway.
Callaway was formerly the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians, and allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior span his last three jobs, dating back to 2013. Following two seasons as Mets’ manager, the 45-year-old Callaway was hired as pitching coach for the Angels in October 2019.
An anonymous accuser told The Athletic that Callaway was constantly preying on women, and certain people described his behavior as an open secret within the game. Nevertheless, it appears that Callaway rarely had trouble finding desirable jobs in his field.
Alderson Appalled, But Callaway Maintains Innocence
According to Yahoo News, Sandy Alderson, Mets’ General Manager, stated that he was appalled when he first heard about the allegations and said he was not aware of this pattern of behavior, nor had he previously heard of any of the conduct described by the five journalists.
He stated that a review of their current hiring process is underway to make sure that a more comprehensive and thorough vetting of new employees is done in the future. Callaway, who may decide to seek the advice of an employment attorney in Orange County or elsewhere, stated that his conduct was not intended to be disrespectful, and that the relationships he was engaged in were consensual. The former pitching coach is married with children and stated that his wife had been made aware of the journalists’ accusations.
Twitter Response from Los Angles Angels
Women Warned About Callaway’s Behavior
The five women did not say whether or not they had hired a sexual harassment attorney, but two of them indicated that they were warned in advance about Callaway’s behavior by people who worked in baseball, as well as by some of their colleagues in the media world.
Callaway was not the only Mets’ high ranking employee to find himself accused of sexual harassment in recent months. As Yahoo News reported, Jared Porter was fired by the New York Mets on January 19 after the release of an ESPN report in which he was accused of aggressively harassing a foreign reporter with explicit photos and unwanted advances. He was fired only 37 days after being hired.
It remains to be seen if Callaway will be charged with any type of sexual harassment, or what the accusations will mean for his career in the future.
Retail Giant H&M Settles Class-Action Suit for $3.8 Million
Retail giant H&M plans to pay a settlement of $3.8 million to refute allegations that off-the-clock work is not paid for by the company. The amount will be distributed to H&M employees who were allegedly affected by the establishment’s conduct regarding this matter. A portion of the money will also go to California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and toward employment attorneys’ fees. The settlement now awaits preliminary approval from United States District Judge Edward J. Davila.
H&M and the employees involved in the class-action lawsuit agreed to settle the dispute so that the costs and risks of continued litigation could be avoided. Workers involved in the lawsuit stated they believe the compensation offered in the settlement was fair.
Why the Plaintiffs Would Rather Settle Versus Litigate
Employees explained some of the reasoning behind their willingness to make the motion requesting approval of the settlement rather than continuing to litigate. For most workers involved in the suit, their hesitancy to continue litigating stemmed from concerns about the ultimate cost of trying the case, as well as the possibility, however slight, that they might lose.
For example, one of the complaints they feared might fail in court was their issue with the company’s policy requiring them to complete a security check when their shifts commenced. With regard to wage and hour violations, compensation for the security check could go either way during a trial. If this were the case, it would likely be due to the “de minimis rule” of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which prohibits employees from suing over minuscule amounts of unpaid time that are so short that it is viewed as unreasonable to expect compensation. California law, however, is generally more liberal than the Fair Labor Standards Act, finding such time to be compensable in most instances.
How Settlement Funds Are Distributed
According to employment attorneys in Orange County, the terms of the H&M wage settlement state that the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency will be paid $75,000 of the $3.8 million, and $41,750 will go to administrative funds. Attorneys’ fees will be approximately $1.27 million, $250,000 is earmarked for legal costs, and workers will receive $15,000 each.
Class Certification Awarded Despite H&M’s Attempt to Prevent It
The class-action lawsuit brought forth by the retailer’s employees survived the company’s attempt to stop workers from gaining class certification. This failed for some claims, but the plaintiffs were ultimately granted class certification. Employees asked Judge Davila for certification of a group of H&M workers who have worked for the retailer since the fall of 2019 and are not exempt from overtime.
The Gray Area of Before-and-After Duties
Employees who perform shift work may encounter tasks before and after their designated start and end time, and some companies may attempt to circumvent payment for such duties. These include those listed in the class-action suit against H&M. Other examples include the time it takes for a person to change into a uniform. If it is essential to the principal activities of their employment, workers must be compensated for the time it takes to don the uniform, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”).
Not all jobs require one to perform duties prior to the start and following the end of a shift; however, federal law requires employees to be paid for many tasks that are outside their typical shift or duties, but nonetheless mandatory. For example, in certain industries, workers may have to attend meetings or participate in trainings. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay workers for lectures and training as well as additional activities, provided they are job-related and mandatory. California employees may be able to receive compensation for such pre and post shift tasks even if the time is “de minimus” as California law follows a different standard than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. An employment attorney is the best person to speak to if a worker has questions about wage and hour violations or other work-related issues.
Source Article: https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/employment-labor/hm-settles-wage-and-hour-class-action-for-3-8m