Mario Batali and ex-partner to pay $600K in sex-harass case

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Mario Batali and ex-partner to pay $600K in sex-harass case

New York City celebrity chef Mario Batali will have to fork over a chunk of dough to women he and others allegedly sexually harassed at his restaurants, state officials said Friday.

The disgraced restaurateur and his former partner, TV food-show judge Joe Bastianich, will pay a total of $600,000, to split between at least 20 workers who endured workplace harassment or discrimination, as part of a settlement, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced after a four-year investigation.

The probe found that Batali, 60 — who has been accused of groping and forcibly kissing women — and his management firm B&B “permitted an intolerable work environment” at Manhattan hot spots such as Babbo, Lupa, and the now-shuttered Del Posto, James said in a statement. The company has since changed its name to Pasta Resources.

“Celebrity and fame does not absolve someone from following the law. Sexual harassment is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere — no matter how powerful the perpetrator,” James said.

“Batali and Bastianich permitted an intolerable work environment and allowed shameful behavior that is inappropriate in any setting,” she said.

Mario Batali
Disgraced restaurateur Mario Batali has been accused of groping and forcibly kissing women.
South China Morning Post via Get

“More than 20 employees were subjected to a hostile work environment in which female and male employees were sexually harassed by Batali, restaurant managers, and other coworkers,” James’s office said.

The victims “witnessed or personally experienced unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate touching, and sexually explicit comments from managers and coworkers.

“Several female employees were forcibly groped, hugged, and/or kissed by male colleagues.”

Higher-ups at the restaurants also fostered a toxic work environment by favoring male staffers and degrading women — including by making comments about their looks, and instructing them to wear more makeup and get breast implants, the probe found.

It also said B&B employers discouraged workers from reporting sexual harassment and failed to take action when the complaints by women were made.

Batali was fired from his cooking talk show “The Chew” and later resigned from daily operations at his restaurant group in 2017 after at least four women accused him of inappropriate touching over a period of two decades.

The NYPD closed its investigation into the sexual assault allegations related to Batali in 2019 without pressing any charges.

Batali still faces indecent-assault raps in Boston for a 2017 incident in which he allegedly groped and kissed a woman at a restaurant. He pleaded not guilty, and the case is still pending.

Mario Batali
Mario Batali was fired from his cooking talk show “The Chew” in 2017.
William Farrington

The settlement between Batali and Bastianich and the state also notes that restaurants owned by the pair must revise their “training materials” and submit biannual reports to the attorney general’s office to prove compliance.

Batali has previously called his past behavior “deeply inappropriate.” A rep for the restaurant group didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday.

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