On March 6, 2019, the 20-year business partnership between celebrity chef Mario Batali and the Bastianich family of restaurateurs, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, was formally dissolved following allegations by several women more than a year ago that he sexually assaulted and harassed them at his restaurants years earlier. Tanya Bastianich Manueli and her brother Joe Bastianich have bought all of Mr. Batali’s shares in the restaurants. As a result, Mr. Batali has been fully divested and will no longer profit from his former restaurant group, and his name already has been removed from the group’s website. A new company (not yet named) has been formed to replace the now defunct Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. Ms. Bastianich Manueli will run day-to-day operations at the new company.

Batali’s exit from the restaurant group more than a year after the sexual assault and harassment allegations highlights that allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace can have a long-lasting, deleterious effect on business and, undoubtedly, on morale. The Bastianich family’s move to separate itself and its restaurants from Mr. Batali and the sexual misconduct of which he was accused also signals to employers in the hospitality industry that they are not yet out of the spotlight when it comes to sexual harassment awareness and prevention. As noted in our February 25 post, attempts to target and reform working conditions in the hospitality industry continue to develop and two states – New Jersey and Illinois – recently proposed legislation that would require restaurants to adopt a sexual harassment training policy and provide anti-sexual harassment training to employees. Several states, including New York and California, already require all private employers (of a particular size) to provide sexual harassment training to their employees.

Given the attention that Mr. Batali’s divestment from his restaurant group has drawn and the ongoing efforts to address sexual harassment in the workplace and in the hospitality industry, in particular, restaurant-employers should consider implementing a sexual harassment policy and training program now. To that end, Epstein Becker Green’s Halting Harassment – an interactive, computer-based training platform – offers an easy solution.

On January 10, 2019, newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed funding six months of partial-paid leave for new parents. The plan, which was announced as part of the governor’s budget, would compensate new parents or caretakers up to 70 percent of their wages to care and bond with a newborn or adopted baby. Newsom stated that “public health and economic research shows that providing up to six months of paid parental leave leads to positive health and educational outcomes for children, greater economic security for parents, and less strain on finding and affording infant child care.”

Currently, each parent may qualify for up to six weeks of paid family leave benefits, and a birth mother may qualify for State Disability Insurance pay for any additional time she is unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth (often six to eight weeks to recover from childbirth), thus granting some parents access to a combined average of four months of leave at partial pay. However, adoptive and single parents may not have the same access to paid leave benefits. Newsom’s proposal would permit two caretakers to split six months of paid leave.

The administration will convene a task force to consider different options to phase in and expand the current Paid Family Leave program. Currently, workers in the state pay a 1 percent payroll tax on wages of up to $115,000 to fund the program, which is running a surplus. Newsom mentioned that one way to pay for an expansion would be to utilize the surplus or raise the payroll tax or income limit so that those earning more than the current taxable ceiling would pay more.

If passed, Newsom’s proposal would set a precedent in the United States, which is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee paid time off for new mothers. Since there is no national paid family leave, some states have enacted their own legislation to provide paid leave. For example, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island offer paid parental and caregiving leave, and Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have paid leave policies that are set to start paying out within the next couple of years. It is clear that there is a momentum to enact family-friendly legislation.

Featured on Employment Law This Week: NYC Employers Required to Grant Temporary Schedule Changes .

New York City employers are now required to accommodate some employee schedule changes – As of July 18th, employees in New York City can request temporary schedule changes, or permission to take unpaid time off for personal events like a caregiving emergency. Employers are required to grant up to two changes per year for up to one business day per request. Employees must be on the job for a minimum of 120 days to be eligible. A new poster has also been issued by the City.

Watch this week’s segment below and read our recent post.