After four women accused celebrity chef Mario Batali of touching them inappropriately, a Care2 petition is calling on Target to drop his cookware line. The petition has gathered over 2,000 signatures.

“The restaurant industry is notoriously an abusive workplace. Men often run kitchens and there is often very little recourse for when someone crosses a line,” writes Care2 petition author Kelsey Bourgeois. “Now, one of the giants of the industry has been found to be a serial abuser. He admits it himself. Our reaction must be firm: we won’t support someone who abuses their power in this way.”

Batali stepped away from the day-to-day operations of his culinary empire and from the ABC show “The Chew” on Monday.

Batali said in a statement, “although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

Batali’s brand spans dozens of restaurants in six U.S. states and Singapore. His name adorns culinary products, including a line of pasta, sauces, oil, vinegar and slow-cured meats. He is the author of 13 cookbooks.

A woman who worked for Batali said he “put his hand on half of my butt and he squeezed it.” Another former employee said he would repeatedly grab her from behind and hold her against him. Another former employee said he grabbed her breasts at a party. And finally, a woman who never worked for Batali said he rubbed her breasts at a party when someone spilled wine on her shirt 10 years ago.

Industry News, Legal