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Restaurant chain criticized for firing employees after pro-Palestinian march

Moxies is under fire for firing four employees who openly expressed support for the National March for Gaza on October 21 by clapping on the steps of a Toronto restaurant.

After a two-week deliberation period, the company said the employees in question “no longer work at Moxies,” according to B’nai Brith Canada, an independent Jewish human rights organization.

Journalist Caryma Saad posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing employees clapping in solidarity with the protest. In the clip, workers at the downtown Toronto Moxies store, at the corner of University Avenue and Wellington Street West, can be seen supporting the rally from the restaurant’s front steps.

“Restaurant owners show solidarity with the National March for Gaza,” says Sa’d subtitle the post, which has since been viewed more than 890,000 times.

Moxies issued a response to the video, asserting that “the conduct of our employees does not correspond to the values ​​of our company”. He emphasizes that “participating in demonstrations in uniform or on our premises is strictly prohibited and does not reflect our corporate culture.”

“We sincerely apologize to anyone negatively affected by these actions. We ask our team to behave with respect and demonstrate empathy and sensitivity and can assure you that a formal investigation has been launched and that Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken for all those involved,” the company said. added October 22.

“Moxies also condemns all forms of violence, and our hearts go out to the innocent civilians who are suffering and those in our communities who are suffering.”

According to Muneeza Sheikh, a Toronto-based employment lawyer, Moxies’ initial course of action should have been to determine whether the event in question was explicitly anti-Israeli or whether it was a peaceful demonstration of solidarity with Palestinian civilians.

“Reviewing the footage, it appears that the employees themselves are saying nothing other than ‘Palestine.’ They did not attend the rally, even though it was an anti-Israel rally, but cooperated, even to a nominal extent, during working hours,” Sheikh said. Yahoo Canada.

Sheikh raised concerns about the extent to which Moxies checked whether employees clearly understood the purpose of the gathering.

“If the gathering was hateful toward a specific group, in this case, Jewish individuals, then it would be reasonable for Moxies to take the position that such participation would constitute a violation of the human rights, not only of its Jewish employees but also from its Jewish customers,” she said.

Under the circumstances, Sheikh said Moxies’ apology would have been reasonable and some level of disciplinary action against the employees would have been warranted.

Muneeza Sheikh is a Toronto-based lawyer and partner at Levitt Sheikh Employment and Labor Law.  She says employers like Moxies shouldn't harshly dismiss these incidents.

Muneeza Sheikh is a Toronto-based lawyer and partner at Levitt Sheikh Employment and Labor Law. She says employers like Moxies shouldn’t harshly dismiss these incidents. (Courtesy of Muneeza Sheikh)

“If employees participate in anti-Israel/anti-Palestinian/anti-Muslim/anti-Jewish rallies, it is assumed that there will be individuals inciting hatred toward a group. This could lead to termination,” he said. explained Sheikh. “However, employers should not make dismissals recklessly, otherwise they will not be able to shield themselves from liability for cases of unfair dismissal that are certain to arise.”

Sheikh also clarified that “employees have the right to peacefully protest, and employers cannot assume that all gatherings of protesters are a ‘hate fest’.”

“In taking this position and terminating employees as a result, the burden will be on the employer to demonstrate that its employees’ actions were discriminatory and hateful,” she said. “Incitement of hatred towards any group can be grounds for dismissal, provided it is characterized as hateful and discriminatory.

“Attending an event that makes your employer uncomfortable is not the same as attending an event that sows hatred toward a particular group. Employers must objectively educate themselves about the difference, otherwise they run the risk of seriously risk being victims of a multitude of unfair dismissals.”

As a result, a growing number of social media users are campaigning for a boycott of Moxies in response to the firing of the four employees.

Others on social media expressed support for Moxies’ decision to lay off employees.

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