A former food preparer for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is suing the restaurant chain, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2019 in retaliation for complaining of discrimination that included a ban on speaking Spanish on the job that only applied to her.
A Chipotle representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Olga Torres’ Los Angeles Superior Court complaint, which seeks unspecified damages.
Chipotle hired Torres as a food preparer in February 2018 at one of its stores in Glendale, located on Glendale Avenue, according to her court papers filed Friday. Five months later, Torres suffered a disabling, work-related injury to her left hand, the suit states.
Torres says she told her supervisor about her injury and sought medical treatment, but she still had lingering pain and her request for work accommodations was denied.
In November 2018, Torres says she suffered injuries to her head and one hand on the job and she again told her boss she was hurt. She was permitted to see the company doctor, but the appointment never took place because of a delay with the paperwork, her suit says.
Torres complained to her boss that the second injury occurred because she was not given the assistance she requested when she first got hurt, but she was ignored, the suit alleges.
Throughout her employment, Torres was chided by her co-workers because she could not speak fluent English, according to her court papers. She alleges the general manager and cook manager yelled at her daily for speaking Spanish and singled her out in banning her from talking in her native language.
Fearing she could misunderstand what the cook manager said during their conversations, Torres says she asked her co-workers to interpret what he was saying. The cook manager reprimanded Torres and said she was wasting her colleagues’ time, according to the complaint.
“This demeaning and disparaging treatment caused plaintiff to suffer emotional injuries, causing an anxiety attack,” the suit alleges.
Torres told the general manager that her doctor said work-related stress caused her anxiety attack, but he replied that it was her “personal problem,” the complaint alleges.
Shortly after Torres suffered the anxiety attack, Chipotle decreased her work hours from 40 to 16 weekly and she was fired in February 2019 at age 54, the suit states.
Torres has suffered “severe and profound pain and emotional distress, anxiety, depression, headaches, tension and other physical ailments,” in addition to sustaining expenses for medical treatment and psychological counseling, the suit alleges.
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