Chipotle restaurant violated a worker’s right to go on strike and talk about wages at work, according to a Decision by an Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The restaurant, located in St. Louis, Missouri, fired Patrick Leeper for alleged “poor performance” after Leeper missed two days of work to participate in protests in favor of a $15 minimum wage. In the three years he worked for the restaurant, however, all of his performance reviews were rated satisfactory.
According to the NLRB judge, Leeper’s manager found out that Leeper “had brought up how much workers are paid” and told him: “We don’t talk about wages in the workplace because it creates drama and makes the workplace awkward.” The manager also threatened to fire him if it happened again. The NLRB judge ruled that Leeper’s termination was illegal and found that Chipotle had also illegally interrogated and threatened other workers who discussed their pay.
Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, employees have the right to engage in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection. Section 8(a)(1) of the Act makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights. The NLRB judge ruled that Chipotle violated Section 8(a)(1) by: (1) telling employees that they could not talk about wages; (2) telling employees there would be reprisals for talking about wages; (3) instructing managers not to let employees discuss wages, and to report employee wage discussions to management; and (4) firing Leeper for engaging in concerted activities with other employees.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has been hit with a wage theft class action by a former worker who claims that there is a corporate policy requiring cooks, servers, cashiers, and cleaning workers to work “off the clock.”
According to the class action lawsuit, filed on October 8 in Minnesota federal court, Chipotle required its hourly-paid workers to punch out at the end of their shift, then continue working on “clean up” and other related tasks. The restaurant worker also alleges that Chipotle held mandatory training and meetings for its workers, but did not pay them for attending. As a result, Chipotle failed to pay its workers minimum and overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Minnesota state wage laws.
Attorneys for the workers are seeking unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime pay, liquidated damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees.
An overtime class action lawsuit was filed in New York federal court alleging that assistant managers at Chipotle restaurants were improperly classified as “exempt” employees under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA).
Lawyers for the workers claim that the popular chain restaurant did not pay the employees for overtime even though they “typically spent the majority of their shifts working the assembly line, filling orders for customers, grilling, operating the cash register, and preparing items for the line including salsa, guacamole, chopped vegetables, and other food items.”
The lawsuit seeks nationwide collective action status under the FLSA to inform Chipotle employees of their worker rights, as well as class action status under the New York Labor Law for the alleged violations of New York Labor Law. Attorneys for the restaurant workers seek unpaid overtime, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.
After an immigration crackdown on Chipotle restaurants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Monty Moran, the head of Chipotle restaurants, has become an advocate of immigration overhaul, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, the popular burrito restaurant chain, became a high-profile target in a move against the employers of illegal workers spurred by the Obama administration. Over 500 undocumented workers were found to be under Chipotle’s employment and were terminated. There was resulting pressure to quickly find qualified workers to replace them — a challenge in the wake of the immigration crackdown and the increasing rate of turnover the company faced. Chipotle views the immigrant workforce as a vital part of its success. The restaurant chain expects to hire 100,000 more workers in the upcoming three years. Other plans to expand and create more outlets are in the works. Among other reforms, Moran supports the proposal to grant legal status to workers from across the border.