Manitoba

Former Stella's employee claims wrongful dismissal

A former general manager of Stella's Café and Bakery claims she was wrongfully let go and "blacklisted" in a new lawsuit against the Winnipeg restaurant chain.

Former manager seeking compensation, claiming wrongful dismissal and 'reprehensible' comments

A former manager is suing Stella's Café and Bakery for wrongful dismissal. (Travis Golby/CBC)

A former general manager of Stella's Café and Bakery claims she was wrongfully let go and "blacklisted" in a new lawsuit against the Winnipeg restaurant chain.

A statement of claim filed with the Court of Queen's Bench on July 29 says Bronwyn Green worked as a server at a Stella's location in 2014, and was promoted to assistant manager in July 2015. She was promoted to general manager by December 2015.

Green said she was promised health benefits, greater job security, designated working hours and a performance bonus of $20,000 per year if financial targets were met.

In the lawsuit, Green claims she wasn't paid her bonus, nor were the other promises granted to her during her time as general manager.

After more than four years at Stella's, Green said she was fired suddenly and without cause on Oct. 15, 2018. She also claimed the company made unfounded allegations about her regarding her conduct at work despite stellar performance reviews during her time there.

Green said she was subjected to actions that were "harsh, vindictive, reprehensible and malicious and constituted bad faith conduct" in the statement of claim.

She's seeking a declaration that she was wrongfully dismissed, pay in lieu of notice, a compensation package for breach of contract, compensation for damages done and repayment for unpaid overtime.

The exact amount Green is seeking hasn't been determined yet.

The claims have not been tested in court.

Tore Sohlberg, one of the owners of Stella's Café and Bakery, told CBC News in an email that he was surprised to hear about the lawsuit.

"We've re-examined the circumstances surrounding the dismissal and are certain there is no foundation for a lawsuit," he wrote.

"However, we must admit we are surprised that Bronwyn Green is making this allegation. In fact, we felt we parted on very good terms, particularly since Bronwyn sent us a fond email following her dismissal, thanking Stella's for the opportunity and the coaching we provided."

Christina Hajjar, 27, Kelsey Wade, 22 and Amanda Murdock, 36, helped create an online campaign to bring attention to what they said was a toxic work environment at Stella's Café in Winnipeg. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Toxic work environment

Last year, Stella's came under fire when a social media account called Not My Stella's featured allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and unfair labour practices at the restaurant.

The organizers of Not My Stella's called on the corporation to fire regional manager Brad Burrows and vice-president of operations Grant Anderson for contributing to a toxic work environment.

Both Burrows and Anderson were eventually let go.

The group also called on the restaurant chain to establish a human resources department and fund mental-health services for past and present employees.

About the Author

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Find her on Twitter at @r_bergen or email her at rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.