A laid off pastry chef at Babbo, Mario Batali's and Joe Bastianich's flagship restaurant in the West Village, is suing the celebrity owners and several coworkers for discrimination, citing multiple instances of homophobic and anti-Mexican harassment.
In the suit, filed Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Isaac Franco Nava alleges that he was wrongfully terminated after repeatedly complaining to supervisors about the abuse. According to the suit, Franco was regularly taunted for being a "stupid Mexican," "girly," and a "f-ggot" by his manager, Adam Onany, and two coworkers, Kevin Herbert and Juan Flores.
The lawsuit alleges that the harassment began immediately after Franco joined the restaurant in November of 2015.
In 2016, Franco sent a written complaint to Babbo's head pastry chef, Rebecca D'Angelis, which did not result in meaningful discipline and eventually led to increased harassment, according to the suit. Franco says he had several subsequent conversations with D'Angelis, his immediate supervisor, but nothing was done to stop the tormenting.
According to the suit, Franco complained to the pastry chef once more on April 11th, and this time was promised that the issue would be brought to higher-ups, including Batali and Bastianich. Instead, Franco alleges that the supervisor set him up—promising Franco that he could take a pork chop home, after he missed Babbo's free nightly dinner, and firing him for theft the following day.
The suit accuses the supervisor of "conspir[ing] with Defendants to assert false disciplinary charges charges against" Franco, and adds that "Batali and Bastianich knew or should have known about this plan."
Representatives of the restauranteurs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Isaac is a proud member of the gay community and to be routinely harassed at work because of his sexual identity and race is completely unacceptable," attorney Eric Baum told the Daily News. "He brought this lawsuit ... to make sure this does not happen to any other employee." Franco seeks unspecified damages.
This is not the first time that Mario Batali has faced legal trouble from employee mistreatment. In 2012, the celebrity chef and his partners were sued by waiters for tip skimming, resulting in a $5.25 million settlement.