Thousands of current and former employees of the restaurant chain Chipotle have reportedly returned paperwork indicating their intent to join a lawsuit against Chipotle for wage theft. The paperwork went out to current and former Chipotle employees in April and indicated that employees who worked “off the clock” for Chipotle could join the lawsuit. Since then, nearly 10,000 current and former employees have joined the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Chipotle employees who worked the closing shift were automatically and routinely clocked out before they finished working. Some managers even allegedly asked Chipotle employees to work after they were clocked out. This is a classic form of wage theft and, given the number of workers who have opted-in to the lawsuit so far, it may have been a pervasive practice at Chipotle.
Unfortunately, many employers engage in wage theft in order to keep labor costs low. Wage theft can take many forms such as requiring employees to work off the clock, refusing to pay time-and-a-half for all overtime worked, and improperly paying the same weekly salary to non-exempt employees even when they work overtime. These practices are called wage theft because they involve the employers keeping wages that employees earned and are legally entitled to receive.
Wage theft is a huge problem and many workers don’t realize that it is happening to them because they assume that their employer is following the law. Don’t just assume that. If your employer is making you work off the clock, is not paying you overtime, or is paying you a salary for work that requires you to work more than 40 hours per week, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights. Even if your employer mistakenly believes it is following the law, you are still entitled to the wages that it has unlawfully withheld. It is also illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who complain about wage theft. However, before you complain, you should speak to an experienced employment lawyer about the best way to do it.