Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Bilingual Employee Sues Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. For Racial And National Origin Discrimination Over Its English Only Rule

New Area Manager instituted policy, fired woman for speaking Spanish

Maria Zhunio, A Hispanic female, who is bilingual in Spanish and English filed a lawsuit, in Supreme Court Queens County, State of New York alleging Racial and National Origin discrimination against, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

According to the suit, Ms. Zhunio was first hired as a counter person in 2007, worked at various Chipotle locations, was promoted to Kitchen Manager and again promoted to Service Manager. She supervised approximately 15 employees (the majority of which were bilingual Spanish). She was never subject to any form or disciplinary actions, nor was she subject to any adverse employment action. She never received any complaints from employees, customers or managers relating to her performance or communication skills. In March 2015, Chipotle appointed a new Area Manager for its New York City locations. Although the vast majority of the employees at the 45th Street location in Manhattan were bilingual Hispanic and Latinos, Chipotle's Area Manager instituted an "English Only" policy for its employees. Employees were advised they needed to speak English to continue to work and no one would be permitted to get a promotion unless they spoke English.

Ms. Zhunio had never received a single complaint from employees, customers or previous managers including area managers about her ability to speak communicate or understand English.

She alleged in the complaint that despite her stellar record, the General Manager was instructed to fire her despite the fact that the General Manager had found her to be reliable, dependable and responsible in her position as Service Manager.

Ms. Zhunio alleged that her race and national origin were motivating factors in her termination and there was no business necessity, nor was there any workplace safety or efficiency reason for the "English Only" rule.

Ms. Zhunio is represented by employment lawyer, Philip Taubman, of TAUBMAN KIMELMAN & SOROKA LLP. New York, New York.


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