Quick-service chain Chipotle has been playing fast and loose with workers’ rights, according to a new lawsuit.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration filed a lawsuit Monday accusing Chipotle of violating nearly every aspect of the city’s Fair Workweek Law, which requires employers to provide predictable schedules to fast food and retail workers. Through a suit filed with the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, the administration said it is seeking $1 million in restitution for workers at five Brooklyn restaurants plus civil penalties.
"This case exemplifies the abusive practices that this law is intended to end, and Chipotle must come into compliance," the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Lorelei Salas said in a statement. "I encourage all fast food workers to come forward if their right to a predictable schedule or new shift is being violated."
The chain did not consistently provide schedules two weeks in advance, as required, according to the complaint. Additionally, Chipotle did not get permission and pay the mandated $10 to $100 premiums for last-minute changes or for so-called clopenings, where an individual works two shifts without at least an 11 hour break, the complaint said.
Workers told city investigators managers required them to sign — and sometimes forged their signatures — in a schedule change book without explaining why, according to the complaint. At times, this book inaccurately noted schedule changes were initiated by the worker, rather than the company, the complaint said.
The filing highlighted how the fast casual restaurant did not offer current employees extra hours before hiring new workers, as mandated, and flouted sick leave law at the five Brooklyn locations probed.
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection noted it has also launched an investigation into 11 Chipotle outposts in Manhattan.
Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief reputation officer, said the company is committed to creating a safe environment and wanted workers with concerns to come forward with any concerns, so they can be promptly addressed.
"Chipotle has been working cooperatively with the city to ensure we have systems and processes in place to comply with the law, so we believe the filing of charges was unnecessary," Schalow said in a statement. "Regardless, we will continue to cooperate with the city and we are addressing any prior noncompliance concerns."