A female former pastry chef at top Toronto restaurant Weslodge filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Kate Burnham claims that she was subjected to severe sexual harassment by three male bosses at Weslodge from July 2012 to January 2014.
Burnham alleges that Chef du cuisine Kanida Chey repeatedly harassed her and showed her a picture on his cellphone of his penis. According to Burnham, Chey licked Burnham’s face, grabbed her breasts and, on a weekly basis, would “reach through her legs to grab her crotch and hold it while humping her from behind, in front of coworkers.” On one occasion, Chey allegedly took Burnham’s hand and “held it over his penis.”
Burnham claims that she asked Weslodge’s day sous chef, Dan Lidbury, for help and that he promised to protect her. Burnham alleges that she was subjected to “harassment and sexual abuse” that was “as bad if not worse.”
According to Burnham’s complaint, Lidbury would sometimes “leer at her body” and lick his lips when she arrived to work at Weslodge. Lidbury allegedly called Burnham names like “angry dyke” and asked her lewd sexual questions.
She claims that Lidbury would “grab her breasts” when she was alone in Weslodge’s walk-in fridge. On one occasion, Lidbury ripped the buttons off her jacket “until it popped open in front of co-workers.”
When Burnham rejected Lidbury’s advances, he allegedly told her that her “attitude” put her on “think fucking ice.”
The complaint alleges that night sous chef Colin Mercer made repeated jokes about Burnham’s sexual orientation and “smacked” her buttocks with a metal spatula “so hard she could not sit down.” Mercer allegedly talked about his girlfriend’s pubic hair and asked Burnham if she was “clean and shaven down there.”
Towards the end of 2013, after having worked at Weslodge for almost 16 months, Burnham claims that she “dreaded coming to work” and would allegedly “break down in tears on a daily basis.” Burnham alleges that the sexually hostile work environment caused her to suffer from anxiety and depression and caused her to lose 50 pounds in less than six months.