Though a series of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks have already wreaked havoc on its sales, Chipotle's reputation continues to take a beating after nearly 10,000 employees filed a lawsuit against the once-mighty burrito giant over unpaid wages this week. And while it's not the first time Chipotle has faced legal action over wage left, the class action suit marks the largest case to date, alleging wrongdoing in nearly every state the Tex-Mex chain operates in.
According to CNN Money, 9,961 current and former employees are accusing the restaurant chain of making them work extra hours off the clock without compensation.
"Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave," the suit, dubbed Turner v. Chipotle, claims.
Leah Turner, a former Chipotle manager in Colorado, is named as the principal plaintiff in the case. She claims that she was frequently made to work without pay—and pressured to force other employees to do the same—in order to keep her location within its budget. Even though employees are typically scheduled to clock out between 11 p.m. and midnight, many workers claim their closing duties often took far longer. Regardless of when they actually leave the restaurant, employees are automatically clocked out at 12:30 a.m.
“Normally the schedule says you end at 11:30 p.m., but it's almost impossible to get out at 11:30 p.m.,” Felipe Ricardo, another former Chipotle employee in Connecticut, added.
Though the chain is expected to continuing fighting the lawsuit in court—seeking to frame the case as little more than a few isolated incidents—the sheer number of employees participating in the suit points to an institutional problem within the company.
"Chipotle has argued this is a few rogue managers who aren't following policy,” Kent Williams, the attorney representing the employees, told CNN. “Our view, especially given the number of people opting in, is that it's a systemic problem at Chipotle.”
The burrito chain is just the latest restaurant group to face legal action over unpaid wages. Last week, employees filed a similar lawsuit against Mark Wahlberg's burger joint, and in July, T.I. made headlines when employees at his soul food restaurant. Scales 925, sued for backpay.
[via CNN Money]