Chipotle has long been known for its amazing burritos. But there’s something new that it’s becoming well known for: angry workers! They’re all over the news. Right now, close to 10,000 current and former Chipotle employees are joined together in a class action wage theft lawsuit against the much-loved Mexican food franchise. According to court records, the suit started two years ago when a former manager located in Colorado filed. But since then almost 10,000 workers have joined the class action. To keep things in perspective, that is equal to almost ¼ of the Chipotle franchise’s current workforce.
What is a Class Action? This is a type of lawsuit through which one or a number of persons can sue a separate party on behalf of a larger group of persons. The “larger” group of persons represented are referred to as “the class.” The reason behind the class action lawsuit can vary widely, but issues being disputed will be common to all members included in the “class” and the people affected are so numerous handling each suit individually would be impractical for the court.
What is Wage Theft? Wage theft is a general phrase commonly used in employment law to refer to a number of different violations resulting in employers not providing pay to employees/workers for time worked or job duties completed. In the current case, the wage theft occurred through off-the-clock work and failure to pay overtime. These are two very common forms of wage theft that employers perpetrate in efforts to maximize their own profits (at the cost of their employees).
The initial complaint against Chipotle, filed in Colorado in September 2014, included accusations that the company forced employees complete unpaid overtime with required duties “after” they clocked out for their shifts (sometimes referred to as off-the-clock work). Workers also claim their presence was required at mandatory after-shift meetings and that those who “closed” had to complete cleanup off-the-clock. According to allegations made in the lawsuit, Chipotle maintained company-wide policies that supported this type of behavior: management was urged to require off-the-clock work to reduce expenses and maximize profits.
If you have questions about what constitutes “off-the-clock” work, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug and Bhomik to discuss your situation.