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Chipotle Agrees to $400,000 Settlement and Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

Chipotle Agrees to $400,000 Settlement and Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

90% of women working in fast food have been subjected to discrimination or harassment.

Fast food giant Chipotle has agreed to conduct additional sexual harassment training as part of a $400,000 settlement it agreed to with three former employees at a Washington State location. According to the lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle), three former employees (including a 17-year-old girl) claimed to be sexually harassed by a 29-year-old manager and another 24-year-old colleague. The former employees’ allegations included slapping of the buttocks, unwelcome sexual comments, repeated requests for sex, and trapping the plaintiffs in a refrigerator, causing fear for their safety.  

After investigating the allegations, the EEOC found merit in the case and determined that Chipotle did not adequately investigate the former employees’ complaints (nor did it take adequate remedial measures to stop the harassment). As a result, Chipotle has agreed to pay a hefty settlement and (among other things) has agreed to additional workplace harassment training in seven of its Washington State locations.

Allegations against Chipotle are nothing new in the fast-food industry

The allegations by the young women are particularly troubling in light of a number of stories of sexual harassment in the fast food industry. Commentary on the subject mentions a study that showed a terrifying 90% of women working in fast food had been subjected to discrimination or harassment. Given the difficulty attracting and retaining employees to the fast food industry and the push toward automation of these jobs, significant issues are in play for a very large segment of the United States economy.

Fast food restaurants are overwhelmingly populated with younger employees with fewer job options as they enter the workforce, often for the first time. As such, managers in these locations prey on naïve and anxious employees, who often submit to acts of harassment. Because fast food restaurants often operate on low margins and have high fees, wages in that industry remain low, and turnover is high. When these factors are combined, there is an environment ripe for harassment. As evidenced by the $400,000 settlement Chipotle just agreed to pay, there are steep consequences for those organizations that do not take steps to educate their workforce on not only the dangers of harassment but how to report it (and take action when necessary) properly.

Syntrio can help your organization combat incidents of harassment.

For over twenty years, Syntrio has worked with organizations of all sizes (including a variety of fast food providers) to develop a program of education aimed at reducing or eliminating incidents of harassment at work. By providing take-home skills that employees can use to treat others respectfully inside and out of the workplace, our training has become the industry standard for employers seeking to make a difference in their employees’ lives. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with your organization to reduce incidents of harassment and look forward to demonstrating how our products can assist in improving workplace culture as a whole. Contact a us today to see how we can help you fight sexual harassment in the workplace.

View Syntrio’s Industry Leading Harassment Training

Use Syntrio’s course library to request a complete catalog of our harassment resources.

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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