Restaurant employees are required to work long hours. Running a restaurant begins hours before and sometimes continues for hours after the actual operating hours. In addition, employees are required to attend staff meetings, training sessions and other events. The majority of restaurant employees are paid on an hourly basis. Accordingly, they expect to be paid for all of the time they are required to be at work.
New class action lawsuits filed against Chipotle allege that the fast food restaurant skirted the law by not paying employees for all of the hours they were on the job. In the complaints, former and current employees accuse Chipotle of using a device that automatically clocked them out at 12:30 am, even if they were required to keep working past that hour. Moreover, employees allege that they were required to attend various work related functions, but were never permitted to clock in.
Some employees are claiming that they worked as many as 10 to 15 unpaid hours every week while employed by Chipotle. These lawsuits are the latest in a recent trend in which high profile fast food chains have been accused of wage theft. Protests and lawsuits have been lodged against McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s and Subway thus far. Plaintiffs in the Chipotle matters are asking for unpaid wages at both the regular rate and at overtime rate. They also seek attorneys’ fees and interest in a settlement. Unspecified damages are also a component of the proposed settlement terms.
Chipotle has yet to file an answer. A legal representative working for Chipotle issued a statement saying that, “The filing of a lawsuit is nothing more than allegations and is proof of absolutely nothing on its own.”
With fast food being a huge industry in the United States that employs thousands of people, it is possible for this case to set a precedent for similar litigation. Chipotle maintains that its policies are in line with state and federal laws that ensure fair treatment to workers. It seems likely that the fast food company will stand its ground and fight back against the claims.