Waitress awarded £124,000 in sexual harassment case

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The chef who subjected a waitress to four months of aggressive sexual harassment has been named as Alberico Penati, an Italian who included Madonna, Prince Charles, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elton John and Hugh Grant among his clientele.

Mr Penati, executive chef at Harry's Bar in Mayfair, central London, repeatedly questioned Ilaria Signoriello, 26, in "crude sexual terms" and bombarded her with phone calls and abuse. An employment tribunal awarded her £124,000 for sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal, and criticised the 49-year-old's "bullying and arrogant" approach to staff.

Ms Signoriello told the tribunal that Mr Penati would walk around the kitchen dressed only in his underpants, making sexual references to females.

On one occasion he cornered his terrified victim as she stood outside the restaurant and told her, as he molested her, that she "looked erotic" when she cried. He frequently subjected her to sexual taunts in Italian slang, including battone (slut).

"I was not only worried about losing my job ... I was also scared for my personal safety," she said. "He talked about never surrendering 'until I see the blood of my victim'... [and] also said I had to be punished for refusing a man like him."

Passing judgment, the tribunal chairman, Gordon Etherington, said Mr Penati had a "grossly inflated sense of his own importance".

David Wynne-Morgan, speaking on behalf of management at Harry's Bar, said they would ensure the action was not repeated. However, Mr Penati will remain executive chef.

Ms Signoriello suffered from depression and post-traumatic shock and has returned to Italy.