A federal agency sued Chipotle for religious harassment and retaliation, after a manager in Kansas removed a Muslim woman's hijab (a headscarf).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging that, in 2021, the assistant manager of a Chipotle restaurant in Lenexa in Kansas harassed an employee repeatedly by insisting she show him her hair despite her refusal. The harassment continued for several weeks before he grabbed her and removed part of her hijab.
The complaint claimed that the manager's offensive and persistent requests' to remove her hijab and his attempts to physically remove it were unwelcomed, intentional, severe and based on religious beliefs, creating a hostile work environment based upon religion.
Laurie Schalow is the chief corporate affairs officer at Chipotle. She said that employees are encouraged to voice their concerns anonymously, or through a hotline.
In an email, she stated that "we have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of discrimination and we have terminated this employee."
The harassment started in July 2021 when the manager asked the employee who was then 19 to remove her hijab so he could see her hair. The complaint states that he asked to see her hair 10 times in a month. She refused every time, claiming that she wore her hair because of religious beliefs.
The complaint stated that although the employee complained about the incident to another supervisor, no action was taken. The manager reached out to pull her hijab off her head during the closing hours of August 2021.
The employee then gave two weeks notice the next day. The complaint claimed that Chipotle did not schedule her any shifts for those two weeks, despite the fact that other non-Muslim workers who had submitted their notice were still scheduled to work.
The lawsuit alleges that Chipotle violated the federal civil rights laws protecting employees and job candidates from discrimination on the basis of religion, race and ethnicity, gender, national origin, and sex.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Chipotle, claiming that it wanted the company to implement policies to provide equal employment opportunities to employees of all faiths.