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Mike Isabella hit with another harassment-related lawsuit

Isabella’s company forced workers to sign nondisclosure agreements to hide sexual misconduct, the suit alleges.

Another lawsuit has been filed against chef Mike Isabella’s restaurant group, the latest development in a rash of high-profile sexual harassment allegations coming to light in the restaurant industry.

In this latest suit, filed this week, former manager Chloe Caras—who is already suing Mike Isabella Concepts for sexual harassment—is asking a Washington, D.C., court to make nondisclosure agreements signed by the company’s employees unenforceable.

Isabella’s company used the nondisclosure agreements to prevent employees from talking about sexual harassment, Caras and her attorney allege in the latter suit, as reported in the Washington Post. Failing to abide by the nondisclosure agreements is punishable with a $500,000 fine, the newspaper reported.

“These allegations are false, petty, and lack context,” Isabella said in a statement. “I want to be clear: We do not condone the hostile work environment implied in these allegations. My team has worked incredibly hard building this successful restaurant group, and I will continue to focus on my employees, food and hospitality at this time.”

Last week, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington removed Isabella from contention for two of its annual awards because of the harassment allegations.

The allegations against Isabella and his restaurant group join a growing number of misconduct claims against well-known figures in the restaurant industry.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali announced late last year that he would temporarily step down from his restaurant operations after dozens of employees and others accused him of sexual harassment. Batali, according to a report this week in the New York Times, will now completely divest himself from the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. 

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