A former Chipotle Mexican Grill employee claims in a proposed collective action that she was not provided proper break time to express breastmilk during shifts.
Alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 10-page lawsuit describes a December 2016 incident during which the plaintiff was denied a requested break to pump breastmilk and then “harassed” by her managers for making such a request. According to the case, other nursing mothers employed by Chipotle have been subjected to the same discriminatory treatment.
The plaintiff says she worked at a Glendale, Arizona Chipotle between March and December 2016, during which time she was a nursing mother. Per the complaint, the plaintiff informed her managers that she needed regular breaks to express breastmilk at work, usually no more than once or twice per shift.
On December 29, the plaintiff’s managers allegedly refused her request for a break to pump breastmilk, claiming the restaurant was too busy and “that she should have managed her time better before coming into work.” About 20 minutes after returning to her post as a cashier, “[p]laintiff’s breasts began to visibly leak breastmilk through her shirt,” the lawsuit says, causing her to become “very embarrassed” due to being forced to interact with customers during this time.
The plaintiff says her managers told her she could take a break in 15 minutes after discovering breastmilk was leaking through her shirt.
“While she was waiting, Plaintiff’s undergarments and work uniform became cold and soggy in plain view of guests,” the complaint states.
About 40 minutes after her break, two of the plaintiff’s managers called her into a “tiny office” to “berate her,” the lawsuit alleges. According to the case, one manager stated he “had a business to run and could not stop everything just because Plaintiff needed to pump breastmilk,” adding that there was “no point” in the plaintiff’s mother calling corporate because he was “untouchable.”
The manager further claimed his whole team “had his back,” implying that the plaintiff’s peers “not only knew about the embarrassing event, but also that they had apparently chosen [the manager’s] side,” the suit says.
The plaintiff’s manager then threatened to complain to her boss about her request to pump breastmilk during the restaurant’s peak hours, after which the plaintiff felt “ashamed and embarrassed,” the lawsuit claims.
Although the plaintiff called Chipotle’s “respectful work number” on several occasions and left voicemails, she never received a response, the suit says.
The plaintiff says she is aware of other workers who were treated similarly and looks to represent all current or former Chipotle restaurant employees who, between March 9, 2016 and January 3, 2017, requested to pump breastmilk while on shift but were denied their request or were subjected to hostility or harassment for requesting such breaks.
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