Washington, D.C., restaurateur Mike Isabella is being sued by a former employee who is claiming that Isabella and his partners at Mike Isabella Concepts often sexually and verbally harassed her in the workplace. The Washington Post reports on the new lawsuit, filed by Chloe Caras in D.C. Superior Court, in which she alleges that the Top Chef alum and his partners called her “bitch“ and “whore,“ made remarks about the size of her butt, and touched her without consent.
Caras is the ex-regional general manager of Mike Isabella Concepts’ Arlington-area restaurants (Kapnos Taverna, Yona, and Pepita) and the former director of operations at the 41,000-square-foot Isabella Eatery at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia.
The new lawsuit claims that on one occasion, an intoxicated Isabella pressured an unnamed sous chef to sleep with Caras. After she told her boss to stop, he allegedly got angry with her and followed her to the kitchen of Isabella Eatery where he called her names until she left the premises. After the incident, Caras claims that Isabella fired her.
The former manager is seeking unspecified damages from the TV personality, his restaurant group, and four of his business partners: Taha Ismail, Yohan Allender, George Pagonis, and Nicholas Pagonis. Each person named in the suit has reportedly denied all allegations, saying that the company does not tolerate sexual harassment and discrimination.
“Simply put, the allegations of an unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere are false,” the defendants said in a statement via the Bascietto & Bregman law firm, according to The Washington Post. “Harassment, discrimination, bullying, abuse, or unequal treatment of any kind whatsoever are not tolerated at MIC.”
Mike Isabella Concepts operates 11 restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., including Arroz, G by Mike Isabella, Graffiato, Isabella Eatery, Kapnos, Kapnos Taverna, Kapnos Kouzina, Pepita, Requin, Requin Brasserie, and Yona.
The Daily Meal has reached out to Bascietto & Bregman for further comment.
Many high-end chefs and food personalities are facing similar accusations and lawsuits, including New Orleans’ John Besh, Plaza Hotel’s Todd English, Top Chef alum Johnny Iuzzini, and The Chew’s Mario Batali. It seems like it was just yesterday when restaurants were being sued for sillier reasons.