Food  |  News & Politics

Mike Isabella and the Former Employee Accusing Him of Sexual Harassment Agree Not to Talk to the Media

Lawyers for both sides declined to comment

Photo by Jeff Elkins

Restaurateur Mike Isabella and Chloe Caras, the former employee who’s suing him over sexual harassment allegations, have agreed to a “media truce” where neither side will talk to reporters, according to a source familiar with the lawsuit. It’s unclear how long the arrangement will last.

Debra Katz, Caras’s attorney, declined to comment. Brian Bregman, Isabella’s attorney, echoed the same: “The only thing that I can say is that we have no comment, and the matter will be resolved in the courts.”

Caras, the former operations director for mega-food hall Isabella Eatery, filed a lawsuit against Isabella and four of his business partners on March 19. In her complaint, Caras describes a toxic “bro culture” that allegedly involved calling female employees “whores” and “bitches,” unwanted touching, bragging about exploits with prostitutes, and other sexist behavior. She claims she was fired after she got in an argument with Isabella about one sexual comment.

Isabella says Caras “stormed off the job” and refused to return to work. He has denied wrongdoing and says Caras engaged in the same “banter, language, and horseplay that she now claims created a hostile working atmosphere.” A group of 10 female employees rallied behind Isabella with a joint letter of support, saying that he and his team “built a culture based on open-communication, equality, and a productive, friendly work environment.”

In early April, Caras expanded her lawsuit with new allegations about sexual harassment within Isabella’s restaurant group, as well as the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent employees from speaking up about bad behavior. Isabella told the Washington Post, which first reported the news, that the NDAs were not so nefarious. Rather, he says they were established to prevent restaurant opening news from leaking to the press before official announcements.

Caras’s attorney and other lawyers unaffiliated with the case told Washingtonian that the NDAs were unusual for their broadness and stiff penalties.

That was the last we heard from either legal team.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.