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.
James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement
A 2019 sexual-harassment lawsuit may be settled in the near future, according to court filings that were recently made public. Actor James Franco has reportedly signed off on a $2,235,000 settlement to end a lawsuit in which he was accused of coercing acting students into performing sexually explicit scenes on film. The settlement must be approved by a Los Angeles County judge.
Franco Was Sued for Sexual Misconduct by Two Actors in 2019
Two actors sued James Franco and his acting and film school in October 2019. The two female students accused him of pressuring them and other students into performing exploitative and gratuitous sex scenes that went well beyond recognized standards on Hollywood film sets. The class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The two plaintiffs also alleged that Franco, along with his partners, took part in inappropriate sexual behavior toward female students and exploited them by using his power as a teacher. Job opportunities were allegedly dangled in front of the students, and the lawsuit accused both Franco and his business partner, Vince Jolivette, of urging students to do sexually explicit scenes with the understanding that they would be given the best roles in exchange for their participation. They further alleged that special treatment was given to students who willingly disrobed in the presence of Franco and his friends.
Students Stated They Were Victims of Fraud
The students were paying $300 a month to attend the acting school, which closed in 2017. Both women claimed they were essentially victims of fraud due to the alleged harassment. The lawsuit accuses Franco of attempting to create his own circle of young women that he could exploit sexually in the name of education.
Franco’s Attorneys Denied Claims
Franco’s sexual-harassment attorneys denied the claims listed in the lawsuit as legally baseless, false, and inflammatory. The attorneys stated that the plaintiffs were attention hungry and that their objective was to get maximum publicity.
Details were disclosed in the filing because the suit is a class action and therefore open to public review. The total amount paid, if approved by a Los Angeles judge, would be $2,235,000. Of the total amount, the plaintiffs would receive $894,000, with the remainder placed in a common fund for the other class-action lawsuit members. Tither-Kaplan would receive $670,500, and $223,500 would go to Gaal, less sexual-harassment attorneys’ fees from each woman.
The settlement would also result in Tither-Kaplan and Gaal dropping their claims without prejudice. Another part of the settlement would give other members of the class-action suit approximately two months to back out and pursue their cases further on their own. Any unclaimed funds from the lawsuit would go to the National Women’s Law Center.
Franco Makes Joint Statement with Plaintiffs
Sexual-harassment attorneys in Orange County have learned that part of the agreement includes a joint statement by Franco and the plaintiffs, in which Franco could keep denying the allegations. However, Franco and his attorneys acknowledged that the women brought up important issues, and that the mistreatment of women in Hollywood is something that should be addressed. All parties agreed that it is essential to make sure no one in the entertainment industry faces any type of discrimination or harassment.
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.
Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that Les Miles is no longer the Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas as he was terminated earlier this week. This move came after sexual harassment allegations were brought forth from his tenure as the Head Football Coach at LSU. Mr. Miles was initially put on administrative leave by Kansas, but the separation is now complete and permanent. The specific terms of his departure will be made public in the days to come. Jeff Long, University of Kansas Athletic Director, said that an outside firm was hired to assist the school in its immediate search for a new head coach. Mr. Long also said that he was very disappointed for the fans, the University, and everyone associated with the school’s football program. Long also mentioned their ultimate goal is continuing to win football games.
Photo Credit Sports Pulse – Jeff Wolken
Reports of Sexual Misconduct Allegedly Mishandled
Following a series of investigative reports from USA Today, a legal firm was hired by LSU to investigate the way the school and its athletic department allegedly mishandled sexual harassment accusations, as well as accusations of domestic abuse. That investigation uncovered multiple claims of harassment by female LSU students against Mr. Miles, which ended with a recommendation from then-LSU athletic director, Joe Alleva, to terminate Mr. Miles with cause. In spite of this recommendation, however, Mr. Miles retained his employment at LSU until he was let go following a 2-2 start in 2016. Mr. Long then hired Mr. Miles as the Head Football Coach at Kansas a few years later, but his former issues have once again caught up to him.
Multiple Sexual Harassment Accusations from Female LSU Students
One of the many incidents investigated was one that took place in 2013, when a female student alleged that Mr. Miles told her she was good looking and kissed her twice without her permission. The accusation was denied by Mr. Miles, but the report went on to say it appeared that he executed poor judgment by creating a situation in which a student employee was made to feel uncomfortable.
The report, created by the law firm Husch Blackwell, was released last week and stated that an employee of the athletic department referred to one student as “completely traumatized” after alleged contact with Mr. Miles. Following the conclusion of the 2013 investigation, LSU banned Mr. Miles from communicating with female students or being alone with them in any setting.
Photo Credit – USA Today- Jeff Biggerstaff
Mr. Miles Speaks of a Bright Future for Kansas Football
Mr. Miles described his termination as “difficult” for he and his family, and he said that he loved the school and the students in the football program. He expressed confidence that the football program is in a better place now than it was when he initially took the position. He encouraged student athletes at the school to earn their degrees and spoke of a bright future for them and for Kansas football.
Peter Ginsberg, Mr. Miles’s sexual harassment attorney, stated that he was “unfairly maligned.” With regard to the team, however, Kansas is in a difficult situation with spring football on the horizon, as the Jayhawks are now missing a Head Coach for the rest of March. Kansas said that a nationwide search for a new coach was launched on Monday, and, in the interim, Mike DeBord will serve as the acting head coach for the team.
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.
Orange County employment attorneys have learned that a former high-ranking supervisor at a District Attorney’s Office suddenly left his position in December 2020 after harassment charges were filed against him: Gary Logalbo allegedly made racist comments, and three female employees accused him of sexual harassment.
The three female prosecutors accused Logalbo of continuous harassment consisting of inappropriate comments and suggestions. They made these accusations and filed claims against Logalbo, current district attorney Todd Spitzer, and the county itself. Logalbo was recently promoted to a high-ranking position, and his duties included overseeing prosecution operations at various court houses in the county.
Photo by Eleanor Segura – Daily Titan
Allegations of Sexual Harassment Date Back to 2019
The internal complaints, which typically form the basis for harassment lawsuits, were filed in January anonymously, and the individuals are seeking damages for sexual harassment that they allege took place since 2019. One claimant said that when she leaned over to plug a cord into an electrical outlet, Logalbo took a picture of her buttocks with his cell phone, stating that he would save it for “later use.” He was also accused of making a racist remark that targeted a deputy public defender whose name was of Middle Eastern ethnicity. It was said that he referred to the man as a terrorist.
The three women alleging sexual harassment claim they delayed reporting the conduct because Logalbo appeared to have “best friend” status with Spitzer, who acknowledged the connection but claimed the two were not as close as suggested. Spitzer stated that he immediately took action as soon as he was aware of the allegations, and began an investigation. In an email to the Orange County Register, Spitzer referred to the specifics of the claims as “beyond disturbing” and “reprehensible.” However, he maintained that he had no knowledge of the allegations until the complaints were filed.
Logalbo Abruptly Resigns Shortly After Being Promoted
Logalbo was given the senior assistant district attorney position in September 2020, and his promotion became effective on November 13, 2020. Shortly thereafter, on December 11, 2020, Logalbo abruptly resigned.
Some of the women accused Logalbo of doing things like knocking on the closed office doors of women and asking “are you naked?” Other allegations included him sneaking up on female subordinates and placing a cold soda can against their bare necks or backs. One woman alleged that Logalbo threatened to “spank” a female attorney, and told another he wanted to wear her panties like a hat on his head. Still another claimant accused Logalbo of attempting to adjust the back label of her sports bra that was presumably sticking out, as she prepared for a workout. She claimed that he tried it again later, but she ducked away.
Documents Filed by Attorneys in Orange County Claim Witnesses Were Involved
Attorney Matt Murphy, former homicide prosecutor and now a private attorney, filed the documents for the case. Murphy said the report stated that other high-level prosecutors were witnesses to certain episodes of harassment, but that they took no action to stop the conduct.
Spitzer told the Orange County Register that he took action as soon as the problem was brought to light and provided a timeline to the newspaper. Ultimately, Logalbo was placed on paid leave on December 11, 2020, but resigned the same day. The Register was unable to reach Logalbo for comment.
District Attorney Todd Spitzer (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register)