Society

10,000 Employees Sue Chipotle For Unpaid Wages

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Chipotle restaurantChipotle restaurant

Thousands of Chipotle workers are claiming that the company has committed wage theft -- making employees work extra hours off the clock with no compensation.

This is the largest class action suit against the company to date, with 9,961 current and former employees giving their consent to join the lawsuit, as of August 26.

"Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave," the lawsuit reads, according to CNN Money. 

Chipotle denies these allegations, saying that they have compensated their employees fully. But, employee Briana Alexander, who worked at a Miami Chipotle for a year, tells a different story. 

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"Behind the scenes, [Chipotle] is not always what it seems," Alexander said. "I can say I have worked off the clock."

She claims that if she or her other workers were not finished by midnight, they were automatically clocked out. However, they were told by their manager to continue working until the job was completely finished, despite the fact that they wouldn't be receiving monetary compensation for their time worked. Although managers often claimed that they would appropriately adjust the hours the next day, that often didn't happen.

Another employee, Felipe Ricardo, says that many of the hours he has worked has also been off the clock.

"I only worked nights because I have a full-time job during the day," Ricardo said to CNN Money. "Normally the schedule says you end at 11:30pm, but it's almost impossible to get out at 11:30pm."

He would often work until 1 a.m., which is one and a half hours of unpaid work. Most workers stay longer than their schedule in order to clean up and help prepare for the next day.

"A lawsuit is nothing more than allegations and is proof of nothing," said Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, to Fortune Magazine. "Since this suit was originally filed in 2014, we have maintained that it has no merit, and we will reserve our discussion of details for the legal proceedings."

Kent Williams of Williams Law Firm will be representing the near 10,000 employees in the upcoming lawsuit. 

"Chipotle has argued this is a few rogue managers who aren't following policy. Our view, especially given the number of people opting in, is that it's a systematic problem at Chipotle," Williams told CNN Money.

Sources: CNN Money, Fortune / Photo credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

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