A former Whistler restaurant dishwasher claims she was harassed and bullied by one of the eatery’s chefs in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 14.
Sophie Barr, 30, alleges she was subjected to mental suffering at the hands of a chef who was employed by Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, operated by Vancouver-based Aquilini Restaurants. That company is a division of The Aquilini Group, a diversified company that includes the Vancouver Canucks.
“The defendant failed to accommodate the plaintiff’s mental health, put the plaintiff in a work environment for which she was emotionally vulnerable, and terminated the plaintiff during her medical leave even when she provided sufficient evidence that she was fit to return to a safe work environment,” the claim filed by lawyer Glen Stratton said.
Barr worked at Araxi from August 2020 to March 2022, was making $35,360 a year at the time and had no employment contract, the claim said.
In the month after Barr began working at Araxi, she began a relationship with chef Jorge Muñoz Santos, state court documents.
She claims she ended the relationship due to “harassing, bullying and emotional and physical abuse.”
Then, in May 2021, she "reconnected with Muñoz Santos" who she alleges was again emotionally abusive. It began to impact her work and amplify her anxiety and depression, the claim said.
Barr said she reported the alleged abusive behaviour and resulting anxiety and depression to executive chef Jeff Park. She alleged he dismissed her concerns and how they might be accommodated.
In early September 2021, the claim said Barr spoke to operations manager Elle Boutilier to explain her alleged psychological responses to working with Muñoz Santos.
Then, Barr alleged, later that month, Muñoz Santos physically and verbally assaulted her outside the restaurant after which she took a mental health day.
When she returned to work the next day, she was “shut down” when she attempted to explain why she had taken the day off, Barr claims.
On her return, she once again tried to explain, the claim said. Court documents say executive chef James Walt accused her of slandering Muñoz Santos.
Come December, Barr alleged “Muñoz Santos began taking steps to isolate [her] in the workplace.”
On Jan. 11, Barr was hospitalized, the claim saying police had encouraged her to be assessed.
She alleged when she returned to work, she was told to “snap out” of her anxiety and began to fear losing her job. She said the plaintiff refused to give her company human resources contact information. She claims she found it herself and reported the situation.
“The verbal harassment and abuse was never properly investigated,” the claim said.
On Feb. 17, 2022, she was placed on medical leave and began feeling suicidal, according to the claim. She was allegedly terminated during the medical leave.
Barr is seeking multiple forms of damages.
The Aquilini Group could not be immediately contacted for comment.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.