Curtis Stone is pictured with his wife, Lindsay Price
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone has pledged to fight explosive allegations by his former nanny that she ‘feared for her life’ when she confronted him about ‘poor working conditions’, court documents say.
Melissa Talley was hired by the Australian cook, 47, and his wife Lindsay Price, 46, in 2019 to look after their children Hudson, 11, and Emerson, eight, at their $11.5million mansion in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood.
Ms Talley did not live with the family, but was required to cook for the boys, read to them, drive them to classes and activities, bathe them, and do small household chores – for an annual salary of US$65,000 (AU$94,000).
According to court documents filed in the LA State Court in September last year, Ms Talley claims she regularly worked more than the nine hours per day stipulated by Californian law, but alleges she was not paid overtime.
Ms Talley further alleges she was ‘harassed’ and fired when she approached Stone with her concerns. She is suing him for wrongful termination and is seeking more than US$25,000 in damages.
However, court documents filed by Stone’s lawyers in November say he denies ‘each and every allegation’ made by Ms Talley and filed 15 defences in an attempt to prove her allegations are baseless.
It can also be revealed that court officials tried to serve Stone with the court summons three times before his wife accepted them on his behalf at their mansion.
The server sat in a car outside the home honking on one occasion, but got no response.
Melissa Talley was hired in 2019 to look after the sons of Curtis Stone and Lindsay Price (pictured with their children)
Among the 15 defences filed by Stone’s lawyers is an argument that ‘all decisions related to [Ms Talley’s] employment were a just and proper exercise of management discretion’.
Stone also argues she failed to ‘mitigate damages’ or take any steps to reduce her losses.
He claims she waited too long to launch legal action, that she did not ‘suffer any injuries or damages’ under his employment, and that he ‘acted reasonably and in good faith in response to any requests’ by Ms Talley.
Ms Talley’s celebrity lawyer Frank Kim previously told Daily Mail Australia that Stone tried to force his client to sign a document in February 2020 and allegedly ‘harassed’ her when she refused.
In her amended complaint, filed in court in September, the former nanny alleges Stone tried to hand Ms Talley a check for US$1000 (AU$1400) during the same meeting, but she did not sign the document or accept the money.
Ms Talley claims she was then ‘summoned’ to Stone’s office a few days later to meet with him and another person, during which time her employment was allegedly terminated and she was told to sign another document.
She claims he did not explain what the document was for, or why she needed to sign it.
‘Feeling pressured and overwhelmed, Ms Talley left the office and sat down in the hallway to compose herself and review the document outside of Stone’s presence,’ court documents say.
Curtis Stone is an ambassador for Australian supermarket, Coles. He lives and works in California
‘However, Stone immediately followed Ms Talley and continued to pressure her into signing the document while hovering over her.
‘In fear for her own safety, Ms Talley finally signed the document without reading it in order to stop Stone’s harassment.’
The former nanny claims she has suffered ongoing ‘humiliation, emotional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish’.
She alleges Stone’s ‘misconduct was committed intentionally, in a malicious, oppressive, fraudulent manner’.
Ms Talley is seeking compensation for the overtime she worked, with interest, plus damages including lost wages and earnings, and demanding Stone cover her legal fees.
The parties underwent arbitration on Wednesday, with the next case management conference scheduled for May 22.
Should the matter go to trial, Ms Talley has demanded her case be heard before a jury.
Stone – a household name in both Australia and the US – has an estimated worth of about $36million. Along with the Brentwood property, he also owns a $9million ranch in Malibu.
He operates three upmarket restaurants in LA called Maude, Gwen, and Georgie, and is the ambassador for Australian budget supermarket, Coles.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk