Stella's encourages concerned individuals to report complaints following allegations of toxic work environment
Published Saturday, November 10, 2018 7:13PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, November 11, 2018 10:13AM CST
New details and demands from a group who say they are former Stella's employees accusing the restaurant chain of creating a toxic work environment.
They took their stories and allegations to Instagram under the banner 'Not My Stella's' earlier this week.
Saturday afternoon some of the people behind the posts spoke publically at the University of Winnipeg.
Shortly after speaking, Stella’s released a statement saying it encourages any concerned individual to report complaints through a safe, confidential third party independent process that will ensure a thorough investigation.
The company noted the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and Manitoba Employment Standards have processes for reviewing and investigating complaints.
‘Not My Stella’s’ say they've collected around 180 stories about the Manitoba restaurant chain's work environment.
The group says workers have experienced everything from sexual harassment to unethical work practices.
"Things quickly snowballed and I realized that there was a need for its own account,” said Christina Hajjar one of the people managing the online group.
Woman says she was humiliated
Eight years ago Katherine McLaren said she was humiliated working at Stella's preparing food.
22 at the time, McLaren said after five days on the job, a superior yelled at her for five minutes because she wore a t-shirt with a logo, instead of plain black one as per the company's policy in front of several co-workers.
"I could see out of the corner of my eyes, they were looking at us. and he's so close and yelling so much I have spit flying on my face and glasses,” said McLaren.
She said management called her the next day to see if she was coming to work and she explained her concerns, but they were dismissed.
McLaren said she decided to leave the job and commends the Not My Stella’s group for speaking up.
“I know this is a step towards the employees not tolerating it,” she said.
Stella’s engages human resources consulting firm
Stella's said on Friday it engaged a human resources consulting firm to review its policies and procedures on workplace safety and harassment.
It also said the firm will make recommendations to improve, including training practices to ensure management and staff receive the best training in how to handle complaints of harassment and clarity as to how to safely report complaints.
As part of their review process the company said it will develop a communications plan for employees and whistleblower line for workers.
Saturday, Stella's went further saying in a statement to CTV News it encourages people with complaints to bring them forward.
"Stella's is deeply concerned about a range of serious allegations and complaints being brought forward in recent days. The safety and security of all Stella's employees is our immediate priority. We are fully committed to taking every responsible action to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all employees, and a zero tolerance approach to breaches of respectful workplace policy will be enforced."
The former employees said among their demands, they want a formal public apology, funding for mental health supports and some members of senior management dismissed, and remain open to a further dialogue.
Full Statement from Stella’s
Statement from Stella's - Nov. 10, 2018
Stella's is deeply concerned about a range of serious allegations and complaints being brought forward in recent days. The safety and security of all Stella’s employees is our immediate priority. We are fully committed to taking every responsible action to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all employees, and a zero tolerance approach to breaches of respectful workplace policy will be enforced.
Stella’s encourages any concerned individual to report complaints through a safe, confidential, third-party independent process that will ensure a thorough investigation. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission and Manitoba Employment Standards also have clear processes for reviewing and investigating complaints.
Stella’s encourages all those with complaints to bring them forward.
We are actively engaged with People First HR Consultants and will roll out enhanced respectful workplace policies company-wide, in the days to come. We will also deliver expanded respectful workplace training programs for all management and staff in the coming weeks.
We will communicate with all employees and encourage them to engage in this process. This process will provide a confidential and safe reporting structure which assures no fear of reprisal.
Stella’s will fully cooperate with authorities investigating any complaint. We will swiftly and permanently remove anyone within our workforce whose actions are found in violation of Manitoba employment standards and/or human rights laws.