Lawyers for Chloe Caras, the former Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC) manager who accused Top Chef alum Mike Isabella and other men at MIC of sexual harassment, have expanded their lawsuit. They’re now asking court officials to declare existing nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by MIC staff unenforceable so that others can speak freely about their experiences while working for the hospitality group.
The Washington Post reports that as of April 3, Caras’ attorney Debra S. Katz, a partner with Katz, Marshall & Banks in D.C., is now seeking to release former and current MIC employees from binding agreements MIC put in place in 2011 that prevent staff from discussing intimate details about “the personal and business lives of Mike Isabella, his family members, friends, business associates and dealings” lest they be fined $500,000 per infraction.
“Employees should not be gagged for life, upon threat of financial ruin, as a condition of earning a paycheck. Nor should they be forced to silently submit to sexual harassment, upon threat of legal action if they report it,” Katz said in an official statement. According to the Post, some of the two dozen employees the paper has interviewed about workplace issues at MIC have asked to remain anonymous out of fear of being sued for violating any NDAs.
Scroll down to read the full text of the amended lawsuit:
Isabella tells the Post “NDAs were absolutely never used to intimidate employees. In fact, we have always had policies in place to encourage employees to report incidents that made them uncomfortable.”
The Post story also reveals that MIC partners George Pagonis (chef at Kapnos) and Nick Pagonis (director at MIC) have retained the attorney Demetrios Pikrallidas of Pikrallidas & Associates in Fairfax, Virginia to represent them. Isabella is being represented separately by attorney Brian R. Bregman of Bascietto & Bregman in Laurel, Maryland.
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