7.7 Million Dollar Award Against Chipotle Restaurants
A Texas jury awarded $7.7 million to a teenager who said she was assaulted and sexually harassed by an assistant manager at the Chipotle Mexican Grill location where she worked.
Chipotle officials in a statement said, “We care deeply about all of our employees, but even our rigorous policies specifically designed to protect our employees cannot prevent private relationships that happen away from the workplace during non-work hours, such as occurred in this case.”
The complaint was originally filed in 2014 in a Harris County judicial district court in Houston. The plaintiff was 16 at the time and her name was not released because she was a minor.
Adrian Villacorta, a trial lawyer on the case, said the lawsuit cited assistant manager and apprentice Gerardo Solis with inappropriate touching and sex with the employee. He was her direct supervisor.
A general manager at the restaurant, Osmin Turcios, was also charged with aiding and abetting an assault because he was aware of Solis’s behavior but did nothing to stop it.
Under Texas law, children under age 17 cannot legally give consent to sex.
Villacorta said the police were also notified of the potential statutory rape, but Solis left the country.
The company said they learned of the relationship only when the former employee’s parents demanded money and filed a lawsuit. By then, neither of the employees worked for the company any longer.
“We continue to offer our support for this former employee and hope for her well being,” Chipotle said. “Chipotle goes to great lengths to provide safe and productive work environments. We have internal policies, procedures and training to address issues and potential problems between employees if ever they arise.”
Viillacort said they are now working on the final judgment in the case, which will likely determine Chipotle’s liability as a company.