Thomas Keller and The French Laundry, his well renowned restaurant in Napa Valley, have been accused of sex discrimination.
Vanessa Scott-Allen worked for Mr. Keller’s New York restaurant for five years. She was regularly promoted and attained the highest server position within the restaurant. In January 2016, Ms. Allen and her husband visited The French Laundry while on vacation in the Bay Area of California. During the restaurant visit, the general manager told her that the restaurant “would love” to have her work there. After returning home to New York, Ms. Allen found out that she was pregnant. She told the general manager at Mr. Keller’s New York restaurant and she also applied for a transfer to the French Laundry. It was her understanding that the information about her pregnancy was relayed to the manager in Napa Valley. The transfer was approved; Ms. Allen gave up her New York lease and shipped their things to California.
As soon as Ms. Allen arrived at The French Laundry, she was asked about her maternity leave plans. Specifically, a French Laundry manager asked her the due date, how long she expected to work before taking leave and the anticipated length of her leave. When Ms. Allen left, she was told that they would get back to her about her schedule. Instead, Ms. Allen was told that the position was no longer available, and in fact that the restaurant had no position available. Ms. Allen believes that there were three open spots at the restaurant. Now, Ms. Allen has sued seeking $5 million in damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs of the suit.