A former Chipotle employee sued the restaurant chain Tuesday, alleging she was fired for complaining that her Latino co-workers were given preferential treatment by management and that a supervisor told her after she spoke out that “black girls always have an attitude.”
Sheqweshu Clark, who worked at a Chipotle in El Segundo, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Chipotle Mexican Grill, alleging racial discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, workplace harassment and failure to prevent harassment.
The Gardena resident is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.
“We only now received the suit and will evaluate its merits and determine a course of action,” the statement read. “Generally speaking, however, a lawsuit is nothing more than a series of allegations and does not constitute proof of any wrongdoing on our part.”
Clark says she began working at the El Segundo eatery in June 2012 as a crew employee and was promoted several times. Her employment “continued without much incident” until she returned from maternity leave last December, according to her lawsuit.
After the appointment of a Latina as the new district manager in the area of the El Segundo restaurant, she and two other Latino managers began giving Latino employees more favorable day shifts while assigning night duty to Clark and other black workers, the suit alleges.
After other black workers spoke to her about the alleged disparate treatment, Clark asked to discuss the issue with one of the male Latino managers, the suit states.
“In response, (the manager) brushed off plaintiff and stated that ‘black girls always have an attitude,”‘ the suit alleges.
Clark was offended by the remark, but the Latino manager continued to ignore her complaints and the alleged unfair treatment of black workers persisted, according to her court papers.
Clark says she spoke to the district manager about her discrimination allegations in January. The district manager denied there was a problem, but said she would set the employees’ schedules from then on, according to the plaintiff.
However, later in January, the district manager suspended Clark without giving an explanation, the suit states. Clark says she contacted Chipotle’s human resources department and voiced her discrimination complaints, but did not get a response.
Clark alleges she was fired in late January “without any explanation.”
–City News Service
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