- A service manager at a Tampa, Florida, Chipotle was fired after complaining about sexual assault, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a Sept. 10 lawsuit (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 8:20-cv-02128 (M.D. Fla., Sept. 10, 2020).
- The federal agency said the individual's initial complaints about a co-workers harassment went unaddressed. When she later complained that the harassment had escalated into assault, the store's general manager "assured her that appropriate steps would be taken to investigate and resolve her complaint." About five days later, the alleged victim told the general manager she needed to escalate her complaints to the corporate office. She was fired three days later for failings that EEOC alleged were actually the responsibility of someone else.
- The EEOC requested provided with back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, among other things.
Chipotle has been on a hiring spree this year. This summer, it announced plans to hire 10,000 more employees to support digital growth, in addition to the 8,000 new hires the chain made following its May "We Are Open. We Are Growing. We Are Hiring" campaign. The casual eatery said in July that it received nearly 700,000 applications since the beginning of the year and attributed the large number to its "best-in-class benefits and inclusive culture."
Chipotle's benefits include a debt-free college degree, access to mental healthcare and paid parental leave. The company said it has also spent about $30 million in incremental pay on bonuses and assistance pay because of the global pandemic, Scott Boatwright, Chipotle's Chief Restaurant Officer, previously told Restaurant Dive.
Still, the employer is no stranger to allegations of employment law violations. In January, the company settled claims from the Massachusetts' Office of the Attorney General alleging violation of child labor laws for $1.37 million. In February, it agreed to reinstate an employee who alleged she was fired for using paid sick leave offered under New York City law, as well as pay $2,500 in restitution and remove disciplinary marks from her employment record.
And late last year, to settle an EEOC lawsuit including a claim that a worker was locked in a freezer after reporting harassment, the restaurant agreed to make a number of changes to its sexual harassment policies, procedures and trainings for 27 of its California restaurants and to pay the worker $95,000. Chipotle also agreed to enhanced accountability and oversight of managers, supervisors and employees and promised to provide tailored anti-discrimination trainings to its leadership and employees. Chipotle did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
HR can show that it takes harassment complaints seriously by creating a reporting procedure, experts have previously told HR Dive, and making sure that complaints are promptly and thoroughly investigated.