Chef Thomas Keller Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination by Former Employee

A former Per Se employee is suing the chef and his restaurant group for passing her over for a job because of her pregnancy

The complainant is seeking $5 million in damages. 

Thomas Keller and the Thomas Keller Restaurant  Group are being sued by a former Per Se employee for $5 million on the basis of pregnancy discrimination. Complainant Vanessa Scott-Allen filed a lawsuit last month against both Per Se and The French Laundry after she was denied a job, allegedly on the basis of her pregnancy.

Scott-Allen had been working as a server at Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant, Per Se, for five years when she moved to California and began the process of transferring to The French Laundry, according to the lawsuit obtained by the Napa Valley Register. French Laundry manager, Michael Minnillo, told her that he would “love” to have her work there. She quit her job at Per Se, as per discussions with both managers, and was scheduled to begin work on April 2016.

By March, both she and her husband had picked up and moved to California. Scott-Allen has in her possession a photo with Thomas Keller with a note that says, “Thank you Vanessa! May your warmth, grace and impact shine just as brightly at TFL as it has here.” Scott-Allen’s start date at The French Laundry kept being pushed back, and, according to the lawsuit, she met with a different manager who began asking her questions about her pregnancy and maternity leave plans. She was shortly thereafter informed that the position was “no longer available” even though three positions were available at the time, Scott-Allen alleges.


Scott-Allen seeks $5 million in damages for “fraud and deceit, sex discrimination, violation of pregnancy disability leave law, negligent misrepresentation, breach of implied contract, wrongful termination and failure to prevent discrimination, as well as violations of labor codes and the California Family Rights Act,” according to the Napa Valley Register.