Morton's Steakhouse Sued Over Alleged Sexual Assault
By Kluger Kaplan November 3, 2011
Reggie Williams said in the lawsuit that the management allowed the kitchen staff to sexually harass him and others
Read the full story and see the video from NBC Miami here.
By Willard Shepard | Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011
A former Morton’s Steakhouse chef claims he was sexually assaulted in the kitchen at a South Florida location, and the man who attacked him allegedly even placed food that had been in his pants onto customers’ plates for them to eat.
Williams said he thought Morton’s restaurant would be just the place for him to work his way up to become an executive chef.
Instead, he filed a civil lawsuit in Palm Beach County on Oct. 3 against the restaurant, alleging its management allowed the kitchen staff at the Boca Raton location to sexually harass him and others and even was aware one if its chefs violated basic health and hygiene standards.
“It’s shocking to most. Horrific to all and unacceptable to any person,” said Reggie Williams who filed the lawsuit.
Morton’s spokesman Roger Drake told NBC Miami in an email statement that the company is reviewing the allegations in the complaint and doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
“Morton’s 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. Morton’s also adheres to the highest industry standards in regard to food safety and food service,” Drake said in an email statement.
In the lawsuit, Williams claims Chef Edmond Bleus’ daily task included preparing vegetables and asparagus, and he would place stalks of asparagus inside his underwear next to his anal and genital areas. He would then parade around the kitchen, and he would sexually abuse male coworkers both physically and verbally.
It wasn’t immediately known who Bleus’ attorney was, and Morton’s told NBC Miami that Bleus and two the workers named in the suit no longer work at the establishment.
Williams claims the management observed Bleus taking the asparagus back out of his anal-genital area, returning it to his work station despite the real risk of exposing to the public serious illness and injury, and later serve that asparagus to Morton’s unsuspecting paying customers.
“Not just himself but coworkers of his were exposed to this and even patrons of Morton’s were exposed unbeknownst to them, to the most irreprehenisble food handling practices one can imagine,” said Jorge Silva, Williams’ attorney.
Williams said he was the victim of assault, battery, and had to leave Morton’s after Bleus surprised him in a restaurant cooler, ripping his pants and underwear down and grabbing his genitals before he got away, the lawsuit claims.
Williams also filed a police report, but he told authorities that he didn’t want the workers arrested, but he wanted police to talk to them to stop the alleged abuse from happening again.
The officer wrote the Manager, Larry Thomas, “kind of knew what took place but didn’t have any details.”
“When I got there that particular day, the gentlemen were kind of upset because I had brought some of these actions as far as harassment and horrific hygiene to the attention of my supervisors,” Williams said.