Mario Batali Lawsuit Ruins Christmas Shopping

Adriana Velez

No glamorous Eataly fun for me this year, sigh.
Mario, Mario, what are you doing?

I don't have much use for celebrity chefs, but I've always had a soft spot for Mario Batali. With his silly orange Crocs and that little scooter he uses to zip around town to his fabulous restaurants -- and don't get me started on that foodie amusement park/emporium, Eataly -- Batali delivers lots of love.

So why would he sue some of his former bus boys?

In October, some 27 of Batali's current and former employees filed a suit via the Restaurant Opportunities Center against Batali and his business partner Joseph Bastianich over stolen tips and owed wages. Molto Mario, stealing your own workers' tips? Say it isn't so!

They're not the only ones. In July, two former Babbo employees filed another, separate suit over labor violations.

Mario and his legal team dug in their heels, and ROC got aggressive. They started holding protests outside Mario's restaurant Del Posto, which is, you know, their right as Americans.

Okay, at this point Mario should have pulled the plug and settled, right? Because then he gets to make a big statement about how of course he respects his employees' rights and wants to do the right thing. This was just a silly misunderstanding, right? Hire a PR team to make Mario look all new and shiny in the end. But no.

Instead, the guy with the power and the money bags filed a counter-suit claiming ROC is waging "a campaign of unlawful harassment, intimidation, vandalism, and violence." The judge ordered ROC to stay away from Batali's restaurants until all this nasty legal business is over.

This is such a bummer. Batali ends up looking like a big, obstinate bully and now I feel like I can't do any of my holiday shopping at Eataly. I have friends who sell their food there, and I really want to support them. Mario, why do you have to jam me into this sticky ethical toffee?

ROC has managed to wring $4.5 million from other naughty restaurateurs in the past, so maybe Mario should play nice and make a deal?

What do you think about what Mario is doing?

Image via Mrsdewinter/Flickr

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