Updated at 4:10 p.m.
Local restaurant Rasika West End is suing its former executive chef, accusing him of quitting for another job after the restaurant shelled out thousands of dollars for his immigration-related legal services and other expenses.
Rasika, in a lawsuit filed Friday in District of Columbia Superior Court, is seeking more than $30,000 from its former chef, Manish Tyagi. The restaurant accused Tyagi of failing to reimburse the restaurant after he left and of exploiting Rasika's name and "confidential business secrets" for personal gain.
Tyagi, who is listed online as a chef at San Francisco restaurant Amber Dhara, could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the complaint, Rasika, which specializes in Indian cuisine, recruited Tyagi from India to be its executive chef in 2011. Since Tyagi wasn't a U.S. citizen, the restaurant said it hired an immigration law firm to help Tyagi get a work visa.
Rasika claimed that in its contract with Tyagi, the restaurant agreed to pay for his immigration-related costs and initial housing arrangements, to employ him for at least three years, and to "invest substantial time and money in training" him. If Tyagi left before the three-year mark, according to the complaint, he would be required to repay the restaurant for those expenses.
Tyagi started working at Rasika as its executive chef in late January 2012. In March 2013, he quit the restaurant and took a job in San Francisco.
Rasika alleged that Tyagi exploited "the name and reputation" of Rasika West End and "used the proprietary and confidential business secrets and information relating to Rasika West End's business plan and operation, to obtain and continue his new position."
The restaurant is suing for $34,100, which included the $6,050 it paid in immigration-related legal fees, salary Tyagi earned while he was in training, marketing resources the restaurant dedicated to "developing Tyagi's name, profile and drawing power," and rent the restaurant paid to house him.
Lead counsel for Rasika, Stuart Pierson of Troutman Sanders, could not be reached for comment. Rasika’s owner, Ashok Bajaj, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
The case is before Judge Laura Cordero. A scheduling conference is set for September 27.