- Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has agreed to reinstate an employee who says she was fired for taking advantage of the paid sick leave offered under New York City law to care for herself and her family, according to a Feb. 26 statement from the mayor’s office. The company also agreed to pay her for the three times she used leave, to pay her $2500 as restitution and to remove any disciplinary marks on her employment record because of using sick leave. A larger investigation into Chipotle's practices remains ongoing.
- An investigation by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) found that the company had violated New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave law by illegally firing the worker, who was employed by a Manhattan-based Chipotle, for taking the paid time off, the city says. The law was enacted in 2018 and requires employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year in New York City to receive paid safe and sick leave, while employers with less than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave, according to the statement.
- In a statement emailed to HR Dive, a Chipotle spokesperson said, "Chipotle’s policy is to fully comply with the Sick and Safe Leave Act, and we communicate to all employees how they can properly request sick time. Chipotle’s engaged and hard-working employees are what makes us great, and we encourage our employees to contact us immediately, including through an anonymous 800 number, with any concerns so we can investigate and respond quickly to address any issues."
Chipotle has been under scrutiny in a few states.
Last month, Chipotle agreed to pay $1.37 million to settle claims by Massachusetts' Office of the Attorney General that the company violated Massachusetts child labor laws. The nationwide fast food eatery is also facing a lawsuit in New York City over accusations that it violated the city’s Fair Workweek Law, HR Dive's sister site Restaurant Dive reported. Workers alleged in the September 2019 legal filing that several of the restaurant’s locations violated that law by not providing their schedules 14 days in advance.
Last fall, the company announced the expansion of its education benefit to include a debt-free degree program that will allow eligible employees to earn a free college degree through its Chipotle Cultivate Education program. However, if compliance is lacking, the impact of innovative and worker-friendly programs can be diminished. Most paid sick leave laws, whether approved by state or local lawmakers, forbid retaliation by employers against employees who take advantage of the protections offered by the law and provide that penalties, fines and damages can be assessed when a violation occurs. To prevent violations from occurring, managers and supervisors should be fully trained on relevant local, state and federal laws including the non-retaliation provisions.