On May 14, it was reported that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. settled with a California former manager after she claimed that the company wrongly terminated her. According to the lawsuit, the woman was accused of stealing $626 from a safe at one of the company's restaurants.
The former manager, who had worked for Chipotle for 14 years, said that she denied stealing the money from the company. When she asked to see the video evidence, the company refused to show her the tape and then allegedly destroyed it. Initially, the company had attempted to settle her civil complaint with $1,000. Instead, the case went to a jury trial, and the woman's attorney asked for a minimum of $10 million.
Ultimately, the jury agreed that the former manager was fired as punishment for filing a worker's compensation claim after she had injured her wrist at work. Chipotle ended up reaching a settlement out of court for an undisclosed sum instead of letting the jury decide. The woman's attorney said that the settlement included her court costs and her attorney's fees in addition to the undisclosed amount that resolved the complaint.
In the state of California, employees have certain rights even if they are at-will employees. While an employee can be terminated with no warning, they cannot be fired for discrimination, harassment or retaliation. If an employee files a worker's compensation claim or reports an incident of harassment and the employee is fired as a result, he or she may have the grounds to file a claim against the employers. An employment law attorney may file the lawsuit against the employer if there is evidence that the employee was fired for an unlawful reason.Source: Fresno Bee, "Chipotle cuts losses, settles case with ex-worker rather than face big dollar damages", Pablo Lopez, 05/14/2018