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If a lawsuit is to be believed, Chipotle’s incentives for its store managers can get ugly competitive. A former employee of the downtown M Street Chipotle is suing the fast-casual chain for pregnancy discrimination, alleging that her supervisor harassed and subjected her to disparate work policies upon learning she was pregnant.
In the suit, Doris Nohemi Garcia Hernandez assigns a potential motive to her boss: his ambition to win Chipotle’s Restaurateur Program, which rewards top-performing store managers by promoting them to district or regional management positions. According to the suit, David (the suit only refers to him by his first name) called a meeting in November 2011 to tell his employees he would be participating in the competition and asked them to work harder to exceed sales goals, so he could win.
Hernandez told David about her pregnancy later that month, and despite previously receiving excellent work performance reviews, she was fired about two months later, according to the suit. She alleges that after she informed him she was pregnant, David required her to announce when she was taking bathroom breaks and said he had to approve them, rules to which no other employees were subject. When she returned from the bathroom David often yelled at her for taking too long, the suit says, even though Hernandez says she took bathroom breaks that were the same length as ones she took before she was pregnant. He also denied her breaks and access to water, she alleges.
“Employees at M Street were entitled to a fifteen-minute rest break during each four-hour shift that they worked,” the suit states. “After Ms. Garcia announced her pregnancy, David often prohibited Ms. Garcia from taking these breaks, even after Ms. Garcia explained that because she was pregnant, she needed this break to eat.”
In January 2012, David asked Garcia to start working longer shifts, saying she was a good employee, the suit says. Garcia agreed. But when she asked David to take off for a prenatal doctor’s appointment, he did not give her he a definitive response for days; on the day of the appointment, she said she needed to go, and left. When she went to work the next day, David fired her in front of the other employees and said she was “not giving 100 percent to Chipotle,” the suit alleges.
Garcia is suing for economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, and the deprivation of her rights to equal employment. A spokesperson for Chipotle and Garcia’s attorney did not return a call for a comment today.
It’s unclear whether David won the contest. An employee at the M Street Chipotle said he didn’t know of a David working at the store.
Read the lawsuit below:
Photo by sun dazed via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0