There is a new outbreak at Chipotle, and it doesn't have anything to do with the food prepared there - it has to do with who is doing the preparing. Nearly 10,000 current and former employees of the Mexican fast food chain have joined a class-action wage theft lawsuit against their employer, according to court records.
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The suit started over two years ago in September 2014 with a former manager of a franchise location in Colorado. However, now it is just a few dozen short of 10,000, which is nearly one-fourth of the franchise's current workforce. They are accused of forcing workers into unpaid overtime after they clocked out of their shifts.
Workers said that they had to “attend mandatory after-shift meetings” and clean-up after closing when they were off the clock.
“To reduce this expense and maximize profit, Chipotle maintains a company-wide policy of not paying hourly-paid restaurant employees for all time worked, and encouraging its general managers to require that work be performed off the clock,” the suit says. “Chipotle implements its policy with a system of reward and punishment. Payroll budgets are set that realistically can be met only if hourly restaurant employees work off the clock.”
The restaurant uses a system that automatically clocks out employees at 12:30 a.m., even if they stay longer. Managers don't document the hours, either because they are too lazy or because they are pressured not to.
The suit wants a jury trial to get full overtime compensation for everyone involved in the case, according to NY Daily News.
The Denver-based company earned $4.5 billion in revenue last year, though they have denied in the past that they cheated workers.
Now the suit has snowballed as Chipotle faces off against more negative publicity after an E. coli outbreak. They are facing criminal investigations in California for the contamination. They are still fighting back against their poor stock market performance after that, and now they will be facing even more negative publicity.