The New York attorney general’s office, on Monday, subpoenaed the records of celebrity chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Ken Friedman, the New York Times reports, as part of a civil rights investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination made last year by employees at the Manhattan restaurant, the Spotted Pig. Friedman is the majority owner of the restaurant and Batali a frequent guest and investor in the popular the West Village establishment.
The New York Police Department says it’s simultaneously investigating whether to charge Batali with criminal charges relating to two female employees’ allegations that Batali sexually assaulted them. New York state Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood is handling the civil investigation into employee accounts of Batali and Friedman’s behavior at the restaurant, that included frequently touching, coercing, and propositioning female employees. As evidence of the abusive culture at the Spotted Pig, which opened in 2004, a VIP room on the restaurant’s third floor was dubbed “the rape room” by some employees.
“The subpoena seeks, among other things, any records of sexually suggestive communications between Mr. Friedman and any employees, including nude photos or descriptions of the attractiveness or sexual availability of employees and job applicants,” according to the Times. “It also seeks video footage of Mr. Batali with female employees in the restaurant’s third-floor party room, as well as records of complaints related to sex harassment or discrimination based on employees’ gender or pregnancy.”
The allegations made against Batali and Friedman as part of the growing Me Too movement have already taken a toll on the restauranteurs’ business. Batali’s restaurant group has already closed six of its New York City locations in the wake of the allegations and Batali and his partners are currently negotiating the future of the remaining establishments.