Winnipeg restaurant chain under fire after allegations and complaints of toxic environment

An Instagram account is sparking debate over the working conditions at Stella’s, a family-owner Winnipeg restaurant chain with over 500 employees in Manitoba.

An account called ‘Not My Stella’s’ popped up Thursday, gained thousands of followers, and shared dozens of stories from those claiming to be current or former employees alleging incidents of sexual harassment and complaints of unethical work practices.

Anonymous posts like, “I currently work at Stella’s and honestly the entire company is toxic. Toxic. Sexual harassment. Gaslighting. Competitive. I have received sexual advances on the clock.”

And others like, “When I worked there, the stress and anxiety levels of staff were so high that we regularly had nightmares about work. This was so common they became referred to as ‘Stella’s-mares.’”

Current and former employees are allegedly behind the account and say they want to provide a safe community and push Stella’s to make changes to improve working conditions.

Stella’s responded to the allegations Friday in a lengthy statement saying, “For those who are critical of us, we regret that we have let you down. Please let us assure you that Stella’s is committed to creating a positive environment for all members of the Stella’s family by doing our utmost to ensure that everyone – employee, customer, supplier and friend – is treated with dignity and respect.”

Further to that the statement also read, “We will review and improve our training practices so as to ensure that our management and staff receive the very best training in how to handle complaints of harassment, including so as to ensure that there is clarity in the organization as to how to safely report and deal with complaints of harassment.”

“Harassment in any form … is not and will not be tolerated within the Stella’s family.”

Full text of the statement from Stella’s:

Human resources consultant Evelyn Mayor said matters like this should be dealt with in the workplace, not on social media.

Mayor said employees need to know their rights.

“But if you’re new in the workplace you don’t know that and if you haven’t had training on workplace respect you have no idea. You report it to your manager or your supervisor and you think well they’re going to deal with and so they should.”

Mayor said if this happens, and management doesn’t deal with concerns employees should file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

She also said companies have a legal obligation to train their managers on policies, and make sure employees understand their rights. Mayor said leaders are supposed to review policies annually.

CTV News contacted the creator of the account and other anonymous posters to request an interview.

CTV News has not yet received a response.