Former Chipotle Employees Sued a Store Manager for Sex Discrimination

This new topic isn't exactly an improvement.
This new topic isn't exactly an improvement. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Finally, some news about Chipotle not tied to foodborne illness that … actually, wait, this won’t distract from its sorry public image at all: It’s about a lawsuit alleging pervasive sexism in the Chipotle workplace.

Apparently a trial began Monday for three former Chipotle managers in Cincinnati who are suing the chain because they claim their boss wrongly terminated them on the basis of little more than possessing two X chromosomes. According to their lawsuit, Herman Mobbs, then the area manager for that part of Ohio, and his immediate superior Brian Patterson discriminated against female general managers even though their performance evaluations were equal to, and sometimes better than, their male peers’. The women allege that during store visits, Mobbs would casually make remarks like “There sure are a lot of overweight women working here,” or use that coded phrase about them just being “too emotional” about things. They also accuse the chain of violating the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, because one plaintiff was fired shortly after taking maternity leave.

Chipotle argues this trio of managers weren’t good at their jobs, so that’s why they got canned. That’s obviously for the jury to decide, but their lawsuit documents a number of issues over a five-year period: One seven-year vet at the chain says she was fired right after being told her location had “improved 100 percent.” Another cites multiple “above expectations” reviews from supervisors and a perfect so-called “cash handling” score, and notes it’s odd how she got fired one month after receiving a bonus. Both add that they were replaced by dudes. The third manager says she returned from a traumatic-sounding maternity leave — she had twins; one died in labor, and the other required hospitalization — even though the surviving child was still in the hospital, only to then be fired.

As a sign that things can always keep going downhill, one of the plaintiff’s male replacements was transgender, and Chipotle’s lawyers are arguing for the purposes of this lawsuit, he should technically count as a “she.”