Chipotle to pay $20m to 13,000 workers for violating rights in largest fair workweek settlement in US history

The company violated workers’ rights to paid sick leave and predictable scheduling

Abe Asher
Wednesday 10 August 2022 14:59 BST
Eric Adams discusses his plant-based diet

New York city mayor Eric Adams and other city officials announced on Tuesday that the fast food giant Chipotle will pay some 13,000 workers a settlement of roughly $20m for violating their rights.

The settlement, according to Mr Adams, is historic: it’s the largest fair workweek payout in US history and the largest worker protection settlement in the history of New York city — a landmark achievement for a resurgent labour movement and its allies.

The city investigation that ultimately resulted in the settlement was triggered when a group of 160 Chipotle employees and the 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed complaints that the company was not giving employees a predictable schedule and not recognising their right to paid sick leave.

The probe found that the workers’ complaints had merit: Chipotle was not giving workers their schedule 14 days in advance and was requiring them to work extra hours without advance notice, violations of New York city’s Fair Workweek Law, and also not allowing workers to take paid time off while sick, a violation of another city law mandating that large companies provide at least 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.

In a statement, Mr Adams sounded a triumphant note.

“Today’s settlement with Chipotle is not only a victory for workers by securing up to $20 million in relief for approximately 13,000 workers, but also sends a strong message, as the largest worker protection settlement in New York city history, that we won’t stand by when workers’ rights are violated,” the mayor said.

The city initally sued Chipotle for violating workers’ rights at a handful of stores in 2019, then expanded the suit last year to cover the entire city.

Chipotle’s chief restaurant officer Scott Boatwright said in a statement that the company has changed its ways.

“We have implemented a number of compliance initiatives, including additional management resources and adding new and improved time keeping technology, to help our restaurants and we look forward to continuing to promote the goals of predictable scheduling and access to work hours for those who want them,” Mr Boatwright said.

Every hourly Chipotle worker who worked between 26 November 2017 and 30 April 2022 is eligible to recieve $50 for each week worked under the terms of the settlement. Workers need only file a claim to begin the process of collecting their payment.

Chipotle, which is headquartered in Newport Beach, California, made hundreds of millions of dollars last year and has assets totaling more than $6bn.

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