As much as I liked eating there as there's one right near my apartment, it may be time to stick a fork in Chipotle, folks.
Nearly 10,000 workers are suing Chipotle for allegedly cheating them on their pay.
Current and former Chipotle employees claim that the company made them work extra hours "off the clock" without paying them. It's a practice known as wage theft, and Chipotle is allegedly doing it all over the United States.
"Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave," according to the class action lawsuit known as Turner v. Chipotle. It's named after a former Chipotle manager in Colorado, Leah Turner, who claims she had to work without pay and was told to make workers under her do the same in order to meet budget goals.
Chipotle denies any wrongdoing and says the case has no merit. The company says it has paid all wages it owes employees.
Briana Alexander is one of the nearly 10,000 workers who have joined the lawsuit. She worked at a Chipotle in Miami, Florida for about a year, starting in the fall of 2013.
"Behind the scenes, [Chipotle] is not always what it seems," Alexander told CNNMoney. "I can say I have worked off the clock."
Alexander says she was forced to stay late numerous times at her store. If the workers weren't done by midnight or 12:30am, they were clocked out but told to keep working until the job was finished, even though they were no longer getting paid. Alexander also claims she worked 12-hour shifts on some days, but was clocked out after her shift time ended even though she actually continued to work on busy days.
Chipotle has faced similar lawsuits before, but this is the first time there has been such a large class action case against the company for wage theft. As of Friday, 9,961 current and former workers have sent in consent forms to join the lawsuit.
They come from about every state that Chipotle operates in, according to lawyer Kent Williams of Williams Law Firm, who is representing the employees in Turner v. Chipotle.
"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," says Williams.
And I know what the obvious criticism is from a Glibertarian standpoint: better to be working for stolen wages than to be unemployed and getting $0. And yes, I'm sure Chipotle's response will be "Well we will have to cut jobs and close underperforming locations now" if they lose this case.
But at some point, cheating workers out of money they are owed is a problem that has to be addressed. As an IT professional I've been subject to wage theft. When the state of KY came to me looking for evidence I complied.
That company is still going and they've hired more. Hopefully, they pay their new workers fairly.
I doubt it, though.