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Restaurant owner settles in sexual harassment cases

The owner of the New York restaurant The Spotted Pig has settled with several former employees who accused him of sexual harassment. The total of the settlement was $240,000, and the 11 employees will receive amounts ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. He is also required to share 20% of the restaurant's profits with them over the next decade and will step back from running the restaurant although he will not give up ownership.

The investigation found that workplace discrimination laws and human rights were violated at the restaurant going as far back as 2005. According to the investigation, the owner demanded that employees send him explicit photos, made unwanted sexual comments and forcibly touched and kissed workers. One of the restaurant servers said that women had been putting up with this kind of treatment in the industry for a long time.

The owner apologized in a statement he issued but also disputed some allegations. The restaurant's general manager also issued a statement saying she hoped the investigation and settlement would send a message that would stop sexual harassment and assault in the restaurant industry. Separately, a former investor in The Spotted Pig, celebrity chef Mario Batali, is being investigated by the attorney general's office for a number of allegations of sexual misconduct as well. Batali owned several restaurants.

People who are facing sexual harassment at work or other types of employment discrimination may want to consult an attorney. Some people may be particularly hesitant to report harassment since they worry that it could negatively affect their career. An attorney may be able to advise as to whether the behavior rises to the level of workplace discrimination or harassment and suggest some next steps for the employee. For example, the employee may want to document the harassment and report it to a supervisor.

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