Chipotle to pay $95,000 to settle sexual harassment claim

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that a man who complained about sexual harassment at a California fast-food restaurant will be paid $95,000 in damages and back pay. The federal agency filed a lawsuit on the man’s behalf against Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2017. The Newport Beach-based chain has also agreed to hold anti-harassment training sessions at 27 restaurants in the San Jose area, according to the Dec. 3 announcement.

The man claimed in the sexual harassment lawsuit that the female general manager of a San Jose Chipotle restaurant groped him repeatedly and sent him photographs of herself clothed only in lingerie shortly after he was transferred to the location in April 2015. He was 22 years of age at the time of the alleged harassment. He says that he was hired by the fast-food chain after graduating from high school. The lawsuit suggests that the woman treated other male employees in the same way.

The man says that he was mocked and retaliated against by the general manager after complaining about the harassment. The EEOC lawsuit claims that his motorcycle was vandalized, and he was locked inside a walk-in freezer. This treatment allegedly prompted the man to leave Chipotle in October 2015. The fast-food establishment declined to comment about the settlement and does not admit liability for the alleged behavior of its general manager.

Employers frequently choose to settle cases like this one to avoid prolonged litigation that could damage their reputations and anger their customers. Attorneys with employment law experience may find it easier to convince employers to resolve these matters at the negotiating table when workers who have been subjected to harassment and discrimination have strong evidence to back up their allegations. This is why attorneys may encourage workers who are thinking of filing such a claim to keep detailed records of their work experiences, save copies of derogatory or demeaning emails and take photographs of inappropriate items in the workplace.

Source: MarketWatch, “Chipotle pays $95K to settle with male employee who says female boss sexually harassed him,” Andrew Keshner, Dec. 4, 2019