The three employees had worked with Le Papillon for years — Malik since 1995 when he started as a dishwasher — starting when the restaurant was at its Church St. location. Everything was fine but it all changed after a partnership split up and the Bigues opened Le Papillon on the Park in late 2009. Malik was appointed the head chef.
Soon after the new restaurant opened, the relationship between the three men and the owners became increasingly acrimonious, the tribunal heard.
There were several run-ins concerning the tasting of dishes made with pork, which Muslims are forbidden to eat.
Malik told the tribunal that Danielle Bigue called him into her office in July 2010 and asked him, for the second time, to try some pork schnitzel because it was offered on the menu. Malik told her that he couldn’t as it was against his religious beliefs. After she raised her voice and insisted, Malik testified he ate some pork because “he was scared of losing his job.”
He testified that after he ate the pork, he went to the office washroom and vomited. He then washed his face, left the office and went to the changing room and cried. Malik said he could not sleep that night and even months later, he still felt guilty about eating pork.
The Bigues told the tribunal they never asked Malik to taste pork schnitzel and that he did not have access to the office washroom.
There was an incident involving Mohammed Islam, a cook at the restaurant, and pork, too. Islam told the hearing that Danielle Bigue asked him to taste tourtière, which included pork, because it did not have enough flavour. He refused because he was fasting for Ramadan and also because he does not eat pork. He testified that Bigue said “you’re crazy people” and left the kitchen.
My question: how can you be a chef in a French restaurant if you can't eat pork? Never mind eating it, if pork is off your menu, so to speak, how can you even prepare it for others to eat?In her testimony, Bigue denied she asked him to taste the tourtière or ever used offensive language...
Something about all this does not add up, if you ask me.
Update: Here's the decision.