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Ex-Morton Chef Sues: It Was “Like Worst Fast Food B Movie”

Just as the high-end 69-restaurant chain known as Morton’s of Chicago began mourning the death of its founder, news of an embarrassing lawsuit against its Boca Raton, FL restaurant has gone viral.

A former sous chef has sued Morton’s in Boca Raton claiming he was the victim of sexual harassment and assault from other employees, including one who “placed stalks of asparagus inside his underwear …”  The lawsuit alleges that the asparagus was later placed back on a plate and “served to  Morton’s unsuspecting paying customers.”

Reggie Williams, the former sous chef, alleges that Morton’s management took no disciplinary action against the employees for the incidents of sexual harassment. 

In a statement, Morton’s said that the complaint includes allegations that food was mishandled by a cook who is no longer employed by the company.  

“Morton’s adheres to the highest industry standards in regard to food safety and food service,” the statement added. “All Morton’s employees receive certifications and training for food safety and exceed federal, state, and local guidelines.”

Morton’s says it has a  ”zero tolerance” policy for violations of both food safety and sexual harassment.  It also said the allegations of its former sous chef are not proven and it intends to vigorously defend itself.

The Williams lawsuit charges the pantry cook’s offense was “utterly revolting stomach-turning act reminiscent of the worst fast food B movie.”

The menu, staffing, and look of all the 65 Morton’s in the U.S., and those in in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vancouver, and Toronto are essentially the same. That’s probably why the allegations Williams in making in Boca Raton are generating interest nationally.

Williams, who has gone on to run his own catering business, names four co-defendants in the lawsuit.

Williams filed a police report and quit after the alleged assault, but he told authorities he did not want to prosecute.   He claims Morton’s management knew what was going on, but was indifferent to it.

Morton’s founder, Allen J. Bernstein, died Nov. 1 in Manhasset, NY after a long illness.  His passing was generating Morton’s some positive publicity for Bernstein’s vision in building the upscale restaurant chain.

Florida media reports say the Morton’s in Boca Raton has passed all recent health inspections.

© Food Safety News
  • http://mortons.com Roger Drake

    This is inaccurate, and as stated in the Morton’s company statement below, the food handling allegations are unproven.
    Morton’s understands a lawsuit has been filed in court in Palm Beach County related to an alleged assault and battery between two pantry cooks. The complaint includes allegations that food was mishandled by one of the pantry cooks named in the litigation and who is no longer employed by Morton’s. Morton’s adheres to the highest industry standards in regard to food safety and food service. All Morton’s employees receive certifications and training for food safety that exceed Federal, state and local guidelines. Violations of these standards are never permitted. In addition, Morton’s has a Zero Tolerance Policy and is firmly committed to providing a safe and harassment free environment for all of its employees and patrons. In the event that any Morton’s employee acts contrary to our policies, Morton’s takes immediate and appropriate steps to rectify the situation. As for the lawsuit, our only comment is the allegations are unproven and Morton’s intends to vigorously defend itself.

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  • Cynthia

    It’s true I have worked at Morton’s in San Francisco, I have seen the Chef drop steaks on the ground and pick them up and place them on a plate. We are required to re-use lemons, seafood is not handled properly, in addition is left out for hours. Don’t take my word for it, order the salmon and you will notice the entire restaurant smells like old fish. Fresh fish doesn’t smell, the only items fresh on the menu are the potatoes, and the broccoli.