World-Renowned Chef Accused of Pregnancy Discrimination

Server says job fell through at Thomas Keller's French Laundry
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2016 6:03 AM CDT
Updated Oct 30, 2016 2:30 PM CDT
The French Laundry restaurant in 2006.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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(Newser) – California's French Laundry may have three Michelin stars, but it also has a discrimination lawsuit on its hands. The restaurant is accused of firing a server because she was pregnant, reports the Napa Valley Register. The suit also names chef Thomas Keller; the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group; and Keller's New York restaurant, Per Se. Server Vanessa Scott-Allen says she worked at Per Se for five years before she moved across the country to accept a gig at The French Laundry. But the job disappeared before she actually started, and Scott-Allen says that happened after a manager began asking her questions about how long she planned to be out on maternity leave.

Scott-Allen is now seeking $5 million in damages for a slew of allegations, including fraud and deceit, and violation of the pregnancy disability leave law, according to her lawsuit filed last month in Napa County Superior Court. A rep for the Keller Restaurant Group says it doesn't comment on pending lawsuits. The suit comes at a rough time for Keller, notes Eater, given that a New York Times food critic delivered a scathing review of Per Se earlier this year. Bloomberg, meanwhile, notes that he's branching into fancy hot dogs in London. (Thieves once stole $300,000 in wine from The French Laundry.)

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