Chipotle sued for sexual harassment in Sammamish case by EEOC

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the fast-food chain Chipotle on Wednesday, charging them with violating federal law by subjecting two young female employees to ongoing sexual harassment.

According to the lawsuit, the harassment occurred from October 2019 to June 2020 and became severe enough the two employees left their jobs.

The EEOC says Chipotle allowed a male service manager and a male crew member to sexually harass several young female employees at its Sammamish store.

In 2019, a 29-year-old service manager began to target a 16-year-old female with unwelcome sexual comments, touching and requests for sex.

After a different manager reported the teen’s concerns to the general manager, the general manager failed to investigate and instead warned the teen she could be fired for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with the service manager.

The general manager then continued to schedule the teen to work a closing shift with the harassing manager.

According to the lawsuit, the service manager then sexually assaulted the teen and began subjecting others to harassment.

In 2020, management at Chipotle failed again to take action after they received complaints of sexual harassment regarding a 24-year-old employee who made comments about the bodies of several workers and referred to them with unwelcome nicknames like, “mama,” “sweetheart” and “baby girl.”

As Chipotle investigated the complaint, the EEOC says they allowed the alleged harasser to return to work where he angrily confronted those who complained.

Two workers quit, fearing for their safety.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC is seeking lost wages, monetary compensation for emotional distress for the two workers, punitive damages and injuctive relief to ensure Chipotle’s workers have adequate protection from sexual harassment in the future.

“This case involves workers in their teens and early 20s. These are their first impressions they will they form about the workplace, and it is devastating when an employer permits sexual harassment to continue despite repeated complaints,” said Nancy Sienko, director for the EEOC’s San Francisco District, which includes Washington. “We want to send a clear and opposing message: every worker has a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable.”

Chipotle agreed to pay $70,000 to settle a EEOC complaint for sexual harassment and retaliation in a 2021 Tampa Bay case and another $95,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit in a 2019 San Jose case.

KIRO 7 has reached out to Chipotle for comment.