Chipotle settles sexual harassment claims for Sammamish location

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Chipotle settled a lawsuit after Chipotle disregarded reports of sexual harassment from three former Sammamish Chipotle employees against their coworkers.

This lawsuit resulted in a $400,000 payout from Chipotle to the three former employees.

Chipotle has agreed to pay $400,000 to three former crew members at its Sammamish, Washington, restaurant location, and will provide other relief to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sept. 14.

According to the lawsuit, Chipotle permitted the three young crew members, including one who was only 17 years old at the time, to be harassed by their 29-year-old service manager and subsequently by a 24-year-old coworker.

The harassment included the manager sexually assaulting the underaged employee and touching another worker’s buttocks. He also made unwelcome sexual comments and requests for sex, and isolated employees by trapping them in the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator — blocking their exit and causing them to fear for their safety, according to the suit.

Despite the employees’ reports to the Sammamish restaurant’s general managers of being sexually harassed, Chipotle failed to adequately investigate their complaints and did not take adequate remedial measures to stop the sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to investigate and take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the three-year consent decree settling the suit, Chipotle will pay $400,000 to the three former employees and will appoint an internal consent decree coordinator to review, revise and implement anti-discriminatory policies and procedures that prohibit sexual harassment and retaliation.

Chipotle will provide additional sexual harassment training to its employees, supervisors and managers at seven of its Washington restaurants in Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and Sammamish. Chipotle will also provide additional training to its HR investigators on how to conduct sexual discrimination and harassment investigations. Chipotle will also adopt and disseminate policies holding its supervisors and managers accountable for their compliance with its Equal Employment Opportunity policies and procedures.