PALM BEACH (CN) – A sous-chef at Morton’s of Chicago in Boca Raton claims managers encouraged employees to sexually harass one another, and that the kitchen high-jinks endangered the public, as one worker would “place stalks of asparagus inside his underwear, next to his anal/genital area in order to simulate his penis,” then would “serve that asparagus to Morton’s unsuspecting paying customers.”
The civil rights complaint accuses one manager of “circulating pictures from his Facebook profile, including one in which he dressed up as a vagina for Halloween.”
Reginald Williams seeks punitive damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations. He sued Morton’s of Chicago/Boca Raton, its district manager Todd Shepard, general manager Larry Thomas, and food prep staff members Edmund Bleus, Robinson Bur-Marie, and two Doe employees, in Palm Beach County Court.
Among the allegations in the 11-page complaint are that “Edmund Bleus began to repeatedly attempt to kiss other male co-workers, to grab them, including their private parts, and hug them. Edmund would come behind male workers aggressively, lick their ears, grab their buttocks and simulate dry-humping/anal intercourse.”
Williams claims Bleus would also “place stalks of asparagus inside his underwear, next to his anal/genital area in order to simulate an erect penis. He then would parade around the kitchen and he would sexually abuse male co-workers, both physically and verbally, using the asparagus in his private areas as a phallic prop.”
Williams claims Bleus did this “in full view” of the chef and general manager Thomas, “repeatedly.”
“No one intervened in any way to stop Edmund,” the complaint states. “Management turned a blind eye to the abuse, indeed, management observed Edmund taking the asparagus back out of his anal/genital area, returning it to his station and, in an utterly revolting, stomach turning act, reminiscent of the worst fast food B-movie, and more so, despite the real risk of exposing to the public serious illness and injury, later serve that asparagus to Morton’s unsuspecting paying customers.”
Williams says restaurant managers fostered an “oppressive environment” and “a culture of silence,” in which people who complained were disciplined or fired.
“Manager Thomas would often engage in inappropriate sexual conduct himself, including circulating pictures from his Facebook profile, including one in which he dressed up as a vagina for Halloween,” the complaint states.
Williams claims that on Valentine’s day this year Bleus “violently attacked” him in a storage area.
“Edmund entered the storage area, pulled down his pants and exposed himself, and struggled with Reggie to remove his clothes in an attempt to rape him and/or anally penetrate him, and/or sodomize him,” according to the complaint.
Williams says that after that incident he “could not return to work, nor did he believe it safe to return to work. He felt ashamed, was psychologically, emotionally and physically traumatized and permanently injured.”
Williams seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
He is represented by Jorge Silva of Miami.