nicole lin jacobs

Workplace harassment complaint filed against owners of Toronto's Jacobs Steakhouse

Jacobs & Co., the upscale steakhouse that has graced a prime King West location on Brant near Spadina for over a decade, has become embroiled in scandal this week after news broke of an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal complaint filed against it by a former employee.

Multiple individuals who were members of management at the bougie Toronto establishment, including its executive chef and general manager, are facing accusations of a number workplace improprieties, including groping, making inappropriately sexual and sexist comments, and showing pornographic content, the Star reported on Tuesday.

According to the Star, when victim Nicole Lin took the issue to higher-ups at Jacobs' principal, King Street Food Company — which also owns the city's popular Buca branded eateries, and which filed for insolvency just days ago — nothing was done about it.

The report says the company hired its own third-party human resources investigator back in the summer when Lin took her story public via social media, but she apparently has yet to see any tangible outcome.

Lin, who worked as a bartender and server at the restaurant from the end of 2016 until mid-2019, now wants the company to implement new training and policies surrounding sexual harassment and discrimination, her complaint reads. She is also seeking $75,000 in damages.

"We can’t just say this is how [the restaurant industry] is. Not only does that condone the behaviour, it encourages it. I don’t want culinary schools to funnel their students into a toxic work environment,"  Lin told the Star, which corroborated her accusations with numerous similar stories from other former staffers.

According to them, the establishment operated on a "culture of fear" and failed to provide a safe working environment free of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and more.

These are things that women in the industry in Toronto in particular are unfortunately subject to all too often. Many social media users seem unsurprised that these incidents are alleged to have taken place at Jacobs.

Some of the accused, including current GM Robert Gravelle and former lead server Michael Weldon, denied the claims, per the Star.

The complaint against the restaurant, at which one can dine on steaks ranging from $50 Canadian tenderloin to Japanese striploin priced at nearly $1,000, is currently being reviewed by the tribunal, and will be settled through either mediation or a hearing if it proceeds.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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