Chipotle is the subject of a lawsuit filed by nearly 10,000 current and former workers who accused the fast food chain of wage theft.
The class action lawsuit centers around the alleged practice of not paying employees for work they did “off the clock,” reports Fortune.
“Chipotle routinely requires hourly-paid restaurant employees to punch out, and then continue working until they are given permission to leave,” according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Former Chipotle employee Leah Turner told CNN that her manager would force her to “clock out,” then require her to work until all of her tasks were completed. “I don’t know why we didn’t fight back,” Turner said. “I wanted to advance in the company, so I kind of just did it. We all did.”
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About 280,000 current and former Chipotle employees in April were mailed a postcard informing them that they had a right to join the wage theft lawsuit. Those who wanted to join the lawsuit had until July 6 to give their consent to join the class action.
Briana Alexander, one of the workers who joined the lawsuit, told CNN that during the year she worked at a Chipotle in Miami, she was not paid for time she was forced to work after hours. “Behind the scenes, [Chipotle] is not always what it seems,” Alexander said. “I can say I have worked off the clock.”
Chris Arnold, communications director for Chipotle, told Fortune that the wage theft allegations were unsubstantiated.
“A lawsuit is nothing more than allegations and is proof of nothing,” Arnold said. “Since this suit was originally filed in 2014, we have maintained that it has no merit, and we will reserve our discussion of details for the legal proceedings.”
Chipotle is one of several companies that have been accused of wage theft in recent years. Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Papa John’s, and Walmart have all been accused of wage theft in lawsuits.
Wage theft is a prevalent problem facing people who work for low wages.
A U.S. Department of Labor study found that more than 300,000 wage and salary workers in California and New York were victims of wage theft. Many of those affected, the study revealed, work in service-based positions in the restaurant and hotel industries and were more likely to be women, people of color, and undocumented people.