Religion

Muslim Restaurant Workers Verbally Abused, Forced to Eat Pork

| by Allison Geller

Three Muslim people working at an Ontario restaurant were awarded $100,000 Canadian for discriminatory treatment on the part of their employers. The employees reported being mocked, threatened, and intimidated into eating pork.

The Toronto Star reported that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario investigated the employees’ claims and came out with an 80-page report asserting that they had been the victims of discrimination, stating the restaurant owners “made the workplace intolerable for each of the applicants.”

The three men were fired after taking up their complaints with the restaurant’s owners.

The newspaper called Le Papillon on Park in Leslieville a “popular restaurant.” It reported that the three employees had worked there for several years. Abdul Malik, the head chef, began as a dishwasher in 1995.

The trouble began when the restaurant’s management changed hands. After a partnership split in 2009, Paul and Danielle Bigue moved the restaurant, formerly just called Le Papillon, to a new location.

The defendants stated that Danielle Bigue mocked them for speaking Bengali and forced them to eat pork, which is against the Muslim religion.

Malik said Bigue raised her voice at him when he refused to try pork schnitzel that was offered on the menu, explaining that it was against his religion. Afraid to lose his job, he tried to pork. He said that he vomited right after and that the incident deeply traumatized him.

Mohammed Islam, a cook, also said that Bigue asked him to try a dish made with pork. Bigue said “you’re crazy people” and left the kitchen when he said he could not.

Bigue also made a comment about “cleaning Bengali sh-t from the kitchen even if I have to close for weeks to hire new staff” when she heard the workers, one of whom is not fluent in English, speaking Bengali.

Bigue denied using offensive language or asking her Muslim employees to eat pork.

"This was the hardest thing I have had to face since becoming Canadian," Malik said of the decision. "I hope I can put this nightmare behind me and focus on my family."

$100,000 Canadian is about $94,000 American. The owners were also ordered to take human rights training and post Human Rights Code cards in the restaurant kitchen.

Sources: Toronto Star, Canada News Wire