- Chipotle and the New Jersey Department of Labor agreed to a $7.75 million settlement resolving more than 30,000 alleged labor law violations impacting minors, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General announced Tuesday.
- NJDOL alleged Chipotle violated a variety of laws governing child labor, according to the Sept. 15 settlement. The settlement, however, doesn’t constitute, “an admission by Chipotle of any wrongful or unlawful act whatsoever.”
- Chipotle has faced several suits over working conditions in recent years, and dissatisfied employees at two Chipotle locations filed for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year.
New Jersey’s audit of the company’s employment practices alleged Chipotle violated rules requiring managers to give minor workers 30-minute meal breaks for every five hours worked, and failed to maintain proper records for employed minors. The state also alleged Chipotle broke child labor “prohibitions on work between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., prohibitions on work more than eight hours per day, prohibitions on work more than 40 hours per week, and prohibitions on work more than six consecutive days.”
Upon payment of the settlement, NJDOL will provide Chipotle with a release for all claims related to child labor and earned sick leave laws, including unknown claims, between Aug. 28, 2017, and Sept. 15, 2022.
For three years following the settlement, Chipotle will be required to provide NJDOL with a self-audit of hours worked by minor employees. *The state will assess no penalties for child labor law violations as long as the percentage of shifts worked by children that violate the law fall below certain thresholds: 10% of minor shifts in the first year, 7% in the second, and 3% in the third year. The company will also appoint a child labor compliance officer and continue using a shift scheduling system that alerts managers as to which workers are legal minors.
NJDOL heralded the settlement as a step towards cooperation between the state and businesses in the enforcement of child labor laws.
“It makes good business sense to treat all workers, particularly minors, fairly and in accordance with the law,” New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “There is no excuse for any business, particularly a major, profitable corporation with prior violations, to continually deny young employees their work rights.”
Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer at Chipotle, said in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive that the company “implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in our restaurants, creating a more efficient, consistent and compliant environment.”
Chipotle has faced regulatory scrutiny and labor activism in recent months. In March, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued Chipotle over sexual harassment in Washington. In New York City, where the company is facing a comprehensive campaign by the Service Employee’s International Union, Chipotle agreed to a $20 million settlement in a lawsuit over alleged violations of the city’s Fair Workweek law last month. At the end of August, workers at a Michigan Chipotle voted to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters after the chain closed a unionizing store in Maine.