- Chipotle has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allowing sexual harassment incidents to occur from October 2019 to June 2020. The EEOC claims two employees left their jobs because of the harassment.
- The EEOC alleges Chipotle "cultivated a toxic work environment when it allowed a male service manager and male crew member to sexually harass several young female employees" at a restaurant in Washington state.
- The commission is seeking compensation for lost wages and emotional distress for the workers, as well as punitive damages and injunctive relief that would ensure Chipotle workers are protected from harassment.
As a 100% company-owned chain, Chipotle may be better positioned to handle harassment and other shop-floor problems compared to its franchised peers. Still, the company has faced several sexual harassment complaints over the years.
Last year, Chipotle settled another EEOC sexual harassment suit in Tampa, Florida, for $70,000. In 2019, the company paid $95,000 to settle an EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit stemming from incidents in the San Jose, California market. In 2016, a former teenage employee won a $7.65 million judgement in a case against Chipotle after she was repeatedly sexually harassed by her supervisor while working at a restaurant in Houston. That year, the chain faced another sexual harassment lawsuit filed by an employee in Los Angeles.
Chipotle currently has a code of ethics for employees, in which the company outlines its "commitment to preventing harassment." The code of conduct also states that the company will not tolerate any form of harassment, including sexual harassment.
According to the code of ethics, all employees are required to participate in formal anti-harassment training, "compliant with applicable state law." In 2019, the company's director of field training said the company has zero-tolerance policies for harassment and that soft skills training is necessary to improve workplace culture.
Chipotle is one of many QSR chains facing allegations of sexual harassment. McDonald's changed its training and created an anonymous sexual harassment hotline after 25 women in 20 cities filed sexual harassment lawsuits or complaints against the chain. Carrabba's, Topgolf, IHOP and Del Taco have all faced sexual harassment suits or claims in the past eighteen months.