Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mass Firing of Latinos at Minnesota-area Chipotles

At least 80 Latino workers have been fired from Chipotle restaurant chains in the Minnesota area since last week, according to the Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committee.

While restaurant managers have been mum on the issue, the corporate office has only released a one-sentence statement confirming that the Immigration and Customs Service has requested employment documents related to the company’s Minnesota restaurants.

Some workers’ fears that the new white trainees they were helping to train were sent in to replace them came true Monday night when they showed up to work only to be fired at the end of their shifts.

The same Latino workers now say the company knew of their undocumented status and that work conditions were subpar.  They only stayed, they say, because they had no other option.

“We’re just asking for fair treatment,” Juan (who asked that his real name not be used) said. “We’re not taking anyone’s job. We came and applied for those jobs and we got them. I’ve seen lots of people come and take a job at Chipotle and then leave, because they can’t take the low pay and the working conditions. But we don’t have a lot of options, so we stay.”

Faced with financial uncertainty in the dead of winter and not knowing where their next meal will come from, about 20 of the fired workers met at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis yesterday to share their experiences and discuss their options.

“They knew, but as long as we were making money for them, they were happy,” Juan said. “Now they’re happy to have us go, because we’ve been working long enough that we’re making more money.”

Many also spoke of not being compensated for their final days of work, which under Minnesota law requires that fired workers be paid for the balance of their work within 24 hours.

One worker, Maria, says she depended on her paycheck from Chipotle to support her four children through the winter since her husband’s landscaping work dries up in cold weather.

“My kids are asking me if they’re going to get Christmas presents this year, and I don’t know the answer,” she said.

City Pages