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Mike Isabella and partners charged with sexual harassment

Washington D.C. restaurateur denies allegations by former manager

Washington, D.C. chef Mike Isabella and partners are facing a lawsuit by a former manager who alleges “extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse,” according to The Washington Post

In a lawsuit filed in District of Columbia Superior Court Monday, plaintiff Chloe Caras is seeking unspecified damages from Mike Isabella Concepts, owned by Isabella, along with four business partners: Taha Ismail, Yohan Allender, George Pagonis and Nicholas Pagonis.

Mike Isabella
Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images

Isabella and others named in the lawsuit denied the allegations, the report said.

“Simply put, the allegations of an unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere are false,” Isabella and his partners said in a statement in the report. “Harassment, discrimination, bullying, abuse or unequal treatment of any kind whatsoever are not tolerated” at Mike Isabella Concepts. 

In the complaint, Caras said Isabella and partners called her vulgar names, commented on her buttocks and touched her without permission.

“Women generally do not make it into the higher management ranks of Mr. Isabella’s establishments and when Ms. Caras did, she became the target of extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse,” the lawsuit said, as quoted in the report.

Caras said in the lawsuit that she was fired after asking Isabella to stop. Attorneys for Isabella, however, disputed that account, saying she walked off the job and refused to return, insisting she had been fired.

Isabella’s attorneys also described Caras as a co-owner of the group, having made a one-time investment of $15,000.

A “Top Chef” alum, Isabella is known most recently for opening the 41,000-square-foot Isabella Eatery food hall in Tysons Galleria mall in Northern Virginia.

The group operates more than a dozen concepts in the Washington, D.C. area, including Arroz, G by Mike Isabella, Graffiato, Pepita, Requin, Yona and several variations of the Greek restaurant Kapnos.

Isabella and his group are among a growing cadre of restaurateurs facing charges of sexual harassment, including Mario BataliKen Friedman and John Besh.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

TAGS: Management
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