Chipotle Mexican Grill was sued by New York City on Wednesday, with the city saying workers at the chain are owed more than $150 million in compensation for scheduling violations.
The complaint, filed by the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, was first reported by The New York Times. Financial penalties could far exceed the relief owed to workers set forth in the complaint, making this the largest action the city has brought under its Fair Workweek Law, according to The Times.
In a statement to Restaurant Business, Chipotle called the case “a dramatic overreach.”
“We make it a practice not to comment on litigation and will not do so in this case, except to say the proceeding filed today by DCWP is a dramatic overreach and Chipotle will vigorously defend itself,” Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs officer, said. “Chipotle remains committed to its employees and their right to a fair, just and humane work environment that provides opportunities to all.”
In September 2019, Chipotle became the first restaurant chain to be targeted under New York City’s Fair Workweek law when the city filed suit against the fast casual for “widespread” violations of its predictable scheduling rule.
In the new complaint, the city said Chipotle has made attempts to comply with the law since the original suit was filed. But it did not resolve the violations, according to The Times.
“Since we first filed our case against Chipotle, we have unfortunately learned that those initial charges were just the tip of the iceberg,” the department’s commissioner, Lorelei Salas, said in a statement to The Times. “The pervasiveness of Chipotle’s complete disregard for the city’s Fair Workweek Law extends to every aspect of the law in every corner of our city.”
Violations stem from November 2017 to September 2019 and include changing workers’ schedules without proper notice or pay; not offering workers additional shifts before hiring new employees; and requiring employees to work consecutive shifts without adequate time off or compensation, The Times said. An estimated 6,500 NYC Chipotle workers were impacted by the violations, and they experienced an average of more than three scheduling infractions each week, the newspaper reported.
In January 2020, Chipotle was cited $1.37 million in restitution and penalties for more than 13,000 child labor violations and wage infractions in Massachusetts. As part of that case, the chain voluntarily paid $500,000 toward a fund to educate young workers about child labor laws.