Chipotle Employee Claims of “Sexually Charged Atmosphere” Result in Lawsuit

A former Chipotle employee, Ariana Castaneda, filed a lawsuit against Chipotle claiming that the managers at the Woodland Hills store where she was employed created a “sexually charged atmosphere” and behaved inappropriately in the workplace, harassing her regularly. Castaneda claims that her Chipotle managers intentionally ordered her uniform shirt too small repeatedly. She worked for Chipotle from December 2013 through February 10th, when she was fired. She was employed as a lead kitchen worker at the restaurant on Canoga Avenue.

Sexual Harassment: harassment in the workplace (or in any professional or social situation) that involves the making of unwanted sexual advances, obscene remarks, obscene gestures, etc.

Discrimination: unjustly treating or treating prejudicially different categories or types of people. It is most commonly referenced in relation to negative treatment in the workplace due to race, age, religion or sex.

Workplace Retaliation: action on the part of co-workers, supervisors or employers to make an individual in the workplace afraid to complain, stand up for their rights or seek legal recourse. Retaliation is often confused with harassment and creating a hostile workplace or environment, but it is specifically aimed at those who have information or situational knowledge that others do not want reported.

Wrongful Termination: when an employee’s employment or contractual agreement for work is terminated by their employer under circumstances where the termination breaches terms agreed on by contract, terms of employment or by law.

Castaneda’s lawsuit also claims that she was not the only one being sexually harassed. She states that the four managers on site sexually harassed other female workers at the southern California Chipotle location and that they even used the security cameras to spy on female customers that they through were attractive. She seeks unspecified damages on allegations including: discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

The plaintiff named Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. along with the four managers in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit. She claims that her position at the restaurant required her to wear a certain uniform, but that her black uniform shirt was purposely ordered too small by the managers. Castaneda, when she complained about the shirt being too small and requesting a larger size be ordered was asked by a manager if it was because her [breasts] were too big. While another shirt was ordered, it was also too small. Castaneda also alleges that one of the Chipotle managers would forcibly hug her and also touch her underneath her shirt when his hands were cold from holding ice or cold drinks, etc. She also cited inappropriate comments managers made about other female employees of a sexual nature, mocking comments made to her personally due to a negative remark that was made on the popular review website, Yelp.

If you are suffering from sexual harassment in the work place or fear that you were wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with the southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik so we can help you.