Does Chipotle Have a Sexual Harassment Problem? By Dan Atkerson on October 19, 2016

Director yelling at the assistantA young woman just won a multimillion-dollar settlement in her sexual harassment case against the Chipotle restaurant chain. The teen started working at Chipotle when she was 16. She reportedly had a sexual relationship with her manager, who was 26 at the time. Apart from being an improper relationship between a manager and an employee, the legal age of consent is 17 in the state of Texas.

The case began after the girl’s parents learned of her inappropriate relationship with her manager. Both employees had already left the company at the time that the case was heard. The family’s attorney made some major accusations against the company, calling it a brothel that serves food. The young girl was in a position where she felt like her ability to keep her job continually depended on a sexual relationship with an adult.  This is what is called quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is when an employee’s benefits and status at their job depends on their providing sexual actions for their harasser.

The court awarded the victim and her family $7.65 million from the company. The manager described in the case has fled the country to Mexico.

The Law Can Protect Against Sexual Harassment

Employees should be able to go to work without feeling pressure from their managers to engage in sexual activities, and without enduring crude behaviors that create a hostile work environment. Managers have an obligation to create a safe space for their employees, where everyone is judged solely on their hard work.

All of the following are examples of sexual harassment:

  • Sexual jokes, insults or gestures
  • Disrespectful remarks about a person’s gender
  • Offers to give favors in exchange for sexual activities
  • Any sexual behavior that creates a hostile work environment
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you should seek the counsel of an experienced employment attorney.

Dan A. Atkerson is and Dallas employment attorney who fights to defend victims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and other forms of workplace injustice.

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