Mario Batali's #MeToo Lawsuit Has Officially Started

Mario Batali made a major name for himself at the end of the 1990s. According to PBS, the chef and restaurateur received the honor of being named a GQ "Man of the Year" back in 1999 and later went on to win awards from the James Beard Foundation, as well as the 2001 D'Artagnan Cervena lifetime achievement award.

Behind the scenes, though, Batali was associated with a variety of scandals. Law firm Joseph & Kirschenbaum reports that the chef was on the receiving end of a lawsuit between himself and 117 individuals over accusations of tip skimming in an eight-year period beginning in 2004. The plaintiffs were Batali's employees at a handful of his restaurants, who accused the chef of illegally withholding and redistributing their tip money and overtime. In the end, Batali settled with the plaintiffs by paying out $5.25 million, at the time "the largest settlement of its kind in the history of the restaurant industry."

This wasn't Batali's only brush with the law. The Washington Post reported last year that Batali and his former restaurant company with Joe Bastianich paid a settlement of $600,000 to more than a dozen of their former employees, who alleged that Batali and other company leaders sexually harassed them and fostered a hostile, sexist work environment. Currently, the chef is in court again over a different set of sexual misconduct allegations.

Batali's latest day in court

According to USA Today, Batali is currently in court over another allegation of sexual misconduct that took place in 2017. The plaintiff accused Batali of having groped and kissed her without her consent while they took a photo together at a Boston restaurant. If the judge renders a guilty verdict (Batali waived his right to a trial by jury), the chef could be looking at spending 2.5 years in prison and being registered as a sex offender. 

Since 2017, four women in total have come forward to accuse Batali of sexual misconduct, leading to the chef giving up his restaurants and leaving his television career behind. Batali has since apologized for his actions and partially agreed with the victims' allegations, despite his current not-guilty plead. The current trial is expected to run for two days.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).