There’s a new outbreak at Chipotle: Furious workers.
Nearly 10,000 current and former Chipotle employees have joined a class-action wage theft lawsuit against the Mexican fast food franchise, court records show.
The suit started two years ago with a former manager in Colorado, but as of last week it has wrapped in 9,961 workers. That’s the equivalent of nearly one-fourth of the franchise’s current workforce.
The initial complaint, filed in September 2014, accused the company of forcing workers into unpaid overtime after they clocked out for their shifts.
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Workers also said they had to “attend mandatory after-shift meetings” and complete closing cleanups off the clock.
“To reduce this expense and maximize profit, Chipotle maintains a company-wide policy of not paying hourly-paid restaurant employees for all time worked, and encouraging its general managers to require that work be performed off the clock,” the suit says.
“Chipotle implements its policy with a system of reward and punishment. Payroll budgets are set that realistically can be met only if hourly restaurant employees work off the clock.”
The restaurants use a system that clocks out employees automatically at 12:30 a.m., even if they are staying longer. Managers then fail to document the hours — or are pressured not to, the complaint says.
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The suit demands a jury trial for full overtime compensation for all workers involved in the case.
The Denver-based company, which pulled in $4.5 billion in revenue last year, has previously denied cheating its workers. Reps did not immediately return messages from the Daily News.
The suit snowballed as Chipotle faced another crisis — an E. coli outbreak that spread to restaurants in 11 states between November 2015 and January 2016, sickening 55 people.
Chipotle faced a criminal investigation in California for the contamination's, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the outbreak — but never determined the cause.
Chipotle temporarily closed dozens of its franchises during the fast food plague, and shuttered all of its 1,900-plus locations one day for safety. The company never said how much money it lost from the outbreak. As news of the outbreak spread, Chipotle’s stock dipped nearly 30%.