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.


James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

James Franco Ends Sexual Harassment Lawsuit with a $2,235,000 Settlement

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.

James Franco

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.

James Franco

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.

DOCTOR WHO Actor Accused of of Sexual Harassment on Set

DOCTOR WHO Actor Accused of of Sexual Harassment on Set

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.Noel Clarke

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.

John Barrowman

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.



As Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface at LSU, Les Miles and Kansas Part Company

As Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface at LSU, Les Miles and Kansas Part Company

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.

Les Miles

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.