'I will never return to Moxies': Restaurant chain criticized for firing employees after pro-Palestine march

A video on social media showed workers cheering during a rally on the steps of a Moxies location in downtown Toronto.

Moxies is being criticized for dismissing four employees who openly expressed their support for the National March for Gaza on Oct. 21 by cheering on the steps of a restaurant in Toronto.

Following a two-week deliberation period, the company said the employees in question "are no longer working at Moxies," according to B'nai Brith Canada, an independent Jewish Human Rights organization.

Journalist Caryma Sa'd posted a video on X, previously known as Twitter, showcasing the employees cheering in solidarity with the protest. In the clip, workers from the downtown Toronto Moxies location on the corner of University Avenue and Wellington Street West can be seen supporting the rally from the restaurant's front steps.

"Restaurant workers show solidarity with National March for Gaza," the Sa'd captioned the post, which has since been viewed more than 890,000 times.

Moxies issued a response to the video, asserting "the conduct of our employees does not align with our company's values." It emphasized that "participating in demonstrations while in uniform or on our premises is strictly prohibited and does not reflect our corporate culture."

"We sincerely apologize to anyone impacted negatively by these actions. We ask that our team behaves respectfully and demonstrate empathy and sensitivity and can assure you that a formal investigation has been launched and appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken for all involved," the company added on Oct. 22.

"Moxies also condemns any forms of violence, and our hearts are with the innocent civilians who are suffering and those in our communities who are hurting."

According to Toronto-based employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh, Moxies' initial course of action should have entailed discerning whether the event in question was explicitly anti-Israel or a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian civilians.

"In reviewing the footage, it would appear that the employees themselves state nothing more than 'Palestine.' They did not attend the rally, even if it was an anti-Israel rally, but cooperated, albeit to a nominal degree during working hours," Sheikh told Yahoo Canada.

Sheikh raised concerns about the extent to which Moxies verified whether the employees had a clear understanding of the rally's purpose.

"If the rally was hateful towards a specific group, in this case, Jewish individuals, then it would be reasonable for Moxies to take the position that such attendance would be in violation of the human rights, not only of its Jewish employees but Jewish patrons," she elaborated.

Under those circumstances, Sheikh stated 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 who's partner at Levitt Sheikh Employment and Labour Law. She says employers like Moxies should not terminate harshly in these incident.
Muneeza Sheikh is a Toronto-based lawyer who's partner at Levitt Sheikh Employment and Labour Law. She says employers like Moxies should not terminate harshly in these incident.

"If employees are attending anti-Israel/anti-Palestine/anti-Muslim/anti-Jewish rallies, the assumption is that there will be individuals inciting hatred towards a group. That could lead to a termination," Sheikh explained. "However, employers should not terminate rashly or else they will not be able to insulate themselves from liability in the face of wrongful termination cases that are sure to ensue."

Sheikh also clarified the "employees do have the right to peacefully protest, and employers cannot assume that all gatherings of protestors are a 'hate fest.'"

"In taking that position and terminating employees as a result, the onus will be on the employer to demonstrate that the actions of their employees were discriminatory and hateful," she said. "Inciting hatred towards any group could be cause for termination, as long as it qualifies as hateful and discriminatory.

"Attending an event that makes your employer uncomfortable is not the same as attending an event that spews hatred towards any one group. Employers should educate themselves objectively on the difference, or they run the serious risk of a slew of wrongful termination actions."

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

Others on social media expressed their support for Moxies' decision to let go of the employees.