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Sonoma County restaurateur Lowell Sheldon is no longer a partner in two of the three Sebastopol restaurants he helped to open after numerous female employees alleged sexual harassment and a toxic work environment over several years. That last one closed in October Sam Levy, a partner at Fern Bar, confirmed Thursday Sheldon was bought out of his ownership stake in that establishment in July, after former employees made public comments about their concerns on social media about the restaurateur's ongoing behavior work environment.
The comments did not publicly name Sheldon, but they alluded to a man in a position of power abusing his privilege, sexually harassing female employees and placing them in inappropriate situations. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on its digital site Saturday six women who had worked for Sheldon accused him of sexual harassment, a pattern of unwanted touching and inappropriate comments stretching back to Several women included in The Chronicle story had been contacted by The Press Democrat over the past six weeks, but refused to publicly discuss their complaints against Sheldon.
Three sources, however, told The Press Democrat police were never contacted about the allegations, and no criminal charges have been filed against Sheldon. The incident happened on a Saturday night in the summer of , he said. He was also mourning the recent death of his father. Sheldon confirmed in September , Fern Bar manager Alexandra Lopez wrote a letter to him and his co-owners, complaining of his pattern of sexual harassment. At the time, Levy and co-owner Natalie Goble brought in an outside group of human resource consultants to conduct an investigation and make recommendations.
The Fern Bar ed a binding agreement in July with Sheldon to buy out his stake in the business. The move to eliminate Sheldon came several weeks after Leah Engel, social media manager for Fern Bar and Handline, announced on Instagram she was reing. Hom-Dawson then weighed in, also on Instagram, thanking Engel for her statement and demanding ability. But they heated up again in the spring.
Her Instagram post received widespread attention, and gave co-owners Goble and Levy the leverage to negotiate a buyout. Sheldon expressed uncertainty about what his future holds. You can reach Staff Writer Austin Murphy at or austin. Sebastopol restaurateur Lowell Sheldon accused of sexual harassment by six women.
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