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.