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Was Celebrity Chef Alon Shaya Fired For Backing Sex Harassment Whistle Blowers?

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(JTA) — Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya says he was fired from his namesake New Orleans restaurant for alleged sexual harassment at the famed eatery and other affiliated restaurants.

Twenty-five current and former employees were interviewed for the expose in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune about a culutre of harassment. 

Shaya spoke up in support of the women. He was later dismissed.

“I do feel like I was fired for talking … and for standing up,” he said.

Shaya, who has not been accused of any impropriety, was executive chef at the BRG restaurants Domenica, Pizza Domenica and his namesake restaurant, Shaya, said in the story that he asked co-owner John Besh and business partner Octavio Mantilla to set up a human resources department in order to deal with such issues. The group’s general counsel, Raymond Landry, disputes the claim.

Shaya told a Times-Picayune reporter in an interview he initiated in August that the issues of sexual harassment at the restaurants were “handled appropriately.”

“No one should feel unwelcome, afraid or unsafe in their place of work. The restaurant industry does not get a pass,” he wrote.

In May 2015, Shaya was named best chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation, the top prize for food. He broke through as the winner after being a finalist in the category for the preceding three years.

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