Kate Burnham, chef, files human rights complaint against Weslodge restaurant
Restaurant owners say they're 'troubled' by details of complaint
A Toronto pastry chef says she experienced "rampant" and "unrelenting" sexual harassment daily at the downtown restaurant where she worked for two years.
That includes being called a "c--t," having images of male genitalia drawn on her work station and being groped in a walk-in fridge.
Kate Burnham made the allegations in an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal complaint filed against three former managers, all men, at Weslodge restaurant, a popular King Street West restaurant. The incidents allegedly took place between 2012 and 2014.
None of the three accused men still work at Weslodge, though she says two have jobs at other Toronto restaurants while the other has left the industry. All three have denied the allegations made against them, which haven't been proven.
Burnham said she complained to staff about what was happening, but was ignored and eventually left the restaurant.
Weslodge's owners Charles Khabouth, the CEO of INK Entertainment, and Hanif Harji, the CEO of Icon Legacy Hospitality, released a statement Tuesday saying they're "troubled" by the allegations at the restaurant — one of many they operate in Toronto.
"The allegations as described by a former employee are disturbing and unacceptable and in no way reflect our organizational values," the statement says.
"Our investigation of the allegations has revealed that there may have been lack of communication and reporting of the alleged incidents at Weslodge in 2012. This circumstance impeded our ability to affect appropriate remedies, and we regret this."
The companies and Burnham say they hope the matter can be resolved through mediation, part of which could include sexual harassment training for all Weslodge employees.
Burnham said she's hopeful the human rights complaint will help change kitchen culture — which has a long history of various forms of bad behaviour — in kitchens across the city.