Chipotle and Child Labor Violations


Maury Ahram

Pictured is a Chipotle in Downtown Manhattan.

Battling claims of E. Coli and workplace misconduct in 2016 and 2019, respectively, Chipotle is once again facing legal troubles entering the 2020s.

In press release published by the office of Massachuttes’s Attorney General Maura Healy, Chipotle was cited to pay $1.37 million, setting the state’s record with an estimated 13,253 child labor violations at their over 50 company-owned locations throughout Massachusetts. A provision in Chipotle’s settlement states that they are agreeing to pay an additional $500,000 to programs for education and workforce development for young workers.

Once the Attorney General’s investigation concluded, Chipotle was cited officially for violating child labor and sick time laws, failing to make wage payments on time, and filing violations. During their examination, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office discovered that Chipotle routinely made minors work too many hours in a day, in a week, and too late into the evening, with some minors complaining that they lacked time to properly finish schoolwork. Chipotle also employed minors without work permits and did not properly notify employees of their rights under earned sick time law, which gives employees a set amount of sick time.

As part of the settlement agreement, Chipotle accepted civil citations and has pledged to come into compliance with Massachusetts child labor laws.

The restaurant industry as a whole has been recently struggling with the decline in the teenage workforce. In addition, an increased investment into the industry by Wall Street has led to an over-saturation in the market. This has led to too many jobs and not enough workers. 

Former restaurant worker Anthony Bonavita ‘20 views Chipotle’s actions and this scandal as “disheartening for the work environment so many young people are soon entering. It’s discouraging.” 

However, not all Bronx Science students even know that Chipotle was just made to pay a $2 million fine and is facing additional charges. When asked of their opinions, Ashley Bao ‘20 and Christopher Chi ‘20 both were surprised that Chipotle had broke child labor laws. Upon discovering that Chipotle violated child labor laws, Leann Goldberg ‘20 said, “Considering that Chipotle is such a popular place, it’s just weird that no one knows about it.”

This is the second time in two years that Chipotle has faced major backlash due to its operations. Last year, New York City sued the fast food giant for violating the City’s labor laws. The lawsuit also alleges that Chipotle disregarded New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act. Along with this lawsuit, New York City is also investigating allegations of similar violations at Chipotle locations in Manhattan.

Chipotle, though viewed as an upscale fast food option, has found itself entrenched in legal troubles for the better part of a decade. Supporters of the chain can only hope that the company amends their problems and continues to serve long into the future.

Supporters of the chain can only hope that the company amends their problems and continues to serve long into the future.