Former employees gathered today outside the Columbia Heights Chipotle in Washington, DC, to protest the restaurant’s unfair labor practices, demanding apologies, explanations, and owed wages. Watch as Emily Tull, a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), explains:
Since late last year, Chipotle has been in the news for mass firings of immigrant workers in Minnesota, Washington DC, and Virginia, amidst rumors of an I-9 audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Normally, this means that Chipotle would be checking workers’ papers and letting go of those who cannot prove they have the right to work.
Juxtapose this with New York based company Harvard Maintenance, which gave its employees 90 days to present their documents.
With Chipotle, workers are simply being tossed out into the cold. Four hundred and fifty workers were fired in Minnesota and 40 more were “lost” in Washington, DC. The restaurant claims that workers have been leaving of their own accord before the ICE audits, but in the case of the Chipotle in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, this isn’t true.
At the D.C. Columbia Heights Chipotle, a dozen workers were fired in one day — March 9th, 2011. They were taken into the back room during a 30 minute break and replaced with new employees before they could return to work their next shift. Many were long-time workers — some had worked at Chipotle for six years. They received no warning and no respect. They huddled together to comfort each other, thinking of how they would feed their families and pay the rent.