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Why Nearly 10,000 Workers Are Suing Chipotle for ‘Wage Theft’

Being asked to clock out, and continue working unpaid. Attending “cleaning parties” on their days off, for free. Staying past shift’s end to attend to duties that couldn’t fit into a normal workday—again, without pay.
Chipotle
Stock Photo via Wikimedia Commons

These are things that former Chipotle employees at various restaurants in the chain claim they were required to do. And now, they’re suing.

“Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave,” says the text of the class-action lawsuit known as Turner v. Chipotle, initially reported by CNN Money.

The case is named for a former Chipotle manager, Leah Turner, who says that she was required to work without pay. Turner also says that as a manager, she was required to make the workers who reported to her work without pay.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

“I was threatened that if I didn’t keep my [labor] numbers down, I wasn’t going to have that position,” says Turner, who initially complied. She tells CNN Money: “I don’t know why we didn’t fight back. I wanted to advance in the company, so I kind of just did it. We all did.”

What’s at Stake

Nearly 10,000 workers have joined what is now a class-action lawsuit for unpaid wages. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, Chipotle could be required to make restitution for unpaid wages and overtime.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt hourly employees are entitled to receive time-and-a-half overtime pay for every hour they work over 40 hours a week, regardless of whether their manager approved the hours.

Chipotle’s Response

Chipotle claims the case has “no merit.” Chipotle spokesman Craig Arnold tells CNN Money that the company does “a number of things for our employees that are uncommon in our industry,” including offering paid vacation and sick time for hourly workers.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your opinion of this case? Chime in on Twitter or leave a comment.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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