Friday, July 18, 2014

You DON'T Want Black Beans With That

Uh-oh, our very own SLOTown Chipotle restaurant's hit the news.  Colin Rigley ran an excellent story in yesterday's New Times that's an eye-roller  (

According to Janeka Samuels, who was a manager at our very own Chipotle, her boss, Ben DeBilzan, the regional manager of Chipotle's Central Coast locations, made totally inappropriate racist remarks, among other actions that can best be described as  reeeeely, reeeeely BAD management practices. (Accusations by other workers of working without breaks, working off clock, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide breaks and meal periods, failure to pay wages in a timely manner, etc. etc. etc.) . 

The upshot is that Ms. Samuels was fired and has now filed two lawsuits, one of them a class action suit. No surprise there.  But here's where the eye-rolling comes in.  There's this: "Chipotle Denver-based attorney Charles Cavanaugh entered a general denial in response to the claims in Samuels' lawsuit.  Among the company's defenses, Cavanaugh wrote that Samuels failed to exhaust Chipotle's internal complaint-resoution procedures and failed to exhaust applicable administrative remedies.  He didn't respond to a call for comment."

". . . failed to exhaust . . ."

Eye roll time.  Really, Chipotle?  In this day and age? Has "corporate" STILL not learned that  it's not the complaints/accusations themselves that get you in the end, but the silence and stonewalling and ignoring of the complaints that will end up costing your company a bundle.  And finding yourself on the sharp pointed end of a lawsuit is the worst, most costly way of finding out you've got a management problem.

And in this case, Chipotle's now got The Shredder on  the warpath, calling for a boycott and reprinting manager Ben DeBilzan's blog postings that, at best, could be called highly questionable, at worst, comments that surely will come to haunt him in a court of law.  A blog, need I point out, that should have been monitored by "corporate" as a matter of general prudent policy since DiBilzan was Chipotle's Central Coast's regional  representative and his public persona should have been of ongoing interest to the company.

But, no.  Chipotle thought they could wait until "complaint resolution procedures" were "exhausted."  Bad move.

So now it's lawsuit city, bad publicity city, eye-rolling city and the only thing Chipotle will "exhaust" is its bank account paying to clean up this mess.  As Colin Rigley notes in closing his excellent piece, "With an openly gay CEO, adoration from financial investors who compare Chipotle to Apple's level of perfectionism, and a reputation for environmental stewardship, [Janeka] Samuels said her experiences at the San Luis Obispo Chipotle locations seemed to contradict the company's public image.

'That's why I'm so surprised, and so shocked," she said.  'That's why it hurt me so much.'" 


Bob from San Luis said...

The young lady in this whole debacle has retained an attorney and was on The Dave Congalton Show on Monday, 7/21, so you can listen to the podcast if you want.

I called in to suggest as part of the settlement that Chipotle be required to offer this "manager" who was so awful to the young woman a transfer to any Chipotle along the East Bay or in Compton.

I do hope this young woman prevails in her suit and Chipotle is required to start following the rules an laws in California for how to treat their workers.

Churadogs said...



It's really surprising that it appears Chipotle's top management didn't get on this quick. Fast action would have likely stopped all this cold. Like the old saying goes, it's not the mistake that costs you, it's the coverup.