In January 2015, Jeanette Ortiz was fired from a Fresno-area Chipotle for allegedly stealing money from the burrito chain’s safe. When she asked to see the video evidence the company claimed to have on file, it was not surrendered. In fact, the video footage of the cash room at the time of the alleged theft was destroyed before she could see it.
Why would Chipotle seemingly frame her for theft and terminate her as a result of its own scheme? The answer, she had filed for workers’ compensation after job-related duties caused her to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
To combat her alleged theft, Ortiz brought a wrongful termination lawsuit against Chipotle to seek justice for her suffering from the restaraunt's management.
Not only is retaliation against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim unethical, it is also illegal. After hours of deliberation, Fresno jurors determined that Chipotle did intentionally scheme against her, likely in hopes to avoid paying her workers’ compensation benefits. The jury determined $7.97 million was owed by Chipotle to Ortiz for financial and reputational damage caused by the incident. The court must still decide how much should be given to Ortiz for punitive damages, which are applicable due to the illegal nature of Chipotle’s activities.
(To read a full article about this ongoing Chipotle wrongful termination and retaliation story, click here to visit The Fresno Bee official news website.)
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