One of the men claimed they were subject to racial stereotyping, but employees said at least one of the men that night repeatedly “dined and dashed.” The company said the individual was involved in an instance of dining and dashing just two nights earlier, and the manager recognized the man as the group approached the counter on Nov. 15, 2018, which led the employees to tell the men they had to pay before being served.
In the scam, Chipotle said the group would order food and say the last person is paying for it all. By the time the last person got to the cashier, the others had their food and the last person would hand the cashier a “bunk credit card” and leave before the cashier discovers it was a bad card.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 20, the men visited the location as often as two or three times every week or two. The plaintiffs claim the manager on duty that night had just transferred to the Grand Avenue location and hadn’t ever seen any of the men, and couldn’t have been just trying to stop them from engaging in a dine and dash scam.
A video taken and later posted to social media shows an employee saying “we’re not going to make food unless you guys actually ave money,” but the lawsuit states one of the men pulled out his wallet and showed the staff but they still declined to serve them, which the plaintiffs claim is proof the staff discriminated against the men and wasn’t actually concerned about a dine and dash scam like they said.
The manager was later fired, but then reoffered the job when Chipotle learned the incident may have arisen over concerns of a dine and dash scam.
Chipotle states in filings that one of the men posted several times about dining and dashing on Twitter, but the lawsuit states none of the tweets Chipotle pointed to were written by the man involved in the incident. The lawsuit also claims that after Chipotle offered the manager her job back and indicated the situation was due to dining and dashing, one of the men received death threats and racial epithets online.
The lawsuit states the plaintiffs filed a charge with the St. Paul Department of Human Rights on Nov. 26, 2018. In a filing explaining the incident to the St. Paul Department of Human Rights, Chipotle said the manager, who is also a minority, had served the men several times prior to the event, and “hundreds and maybe thousands of Black individuals” in the past. But, on that night to their group, she suddenly was racially motivated? the restaurant asks, stating their is no evidence to support the claims.
However, the department later responded saying the “complainants were able to establish a prima facie case of discrimination” and the “respondent was not able to establish a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its actions.” Among the reasons for the determination, the department cited the fact that a white woman is seen in the viral video approaching the counter while the men were there, ordering without being told to prepay, and then having the cost waived by employees at the restaurant.
Chipotle still denies the incident was due to discrimination.
A response filing from Chipotle on Oct. 11 states the plaintiffs asked them for a settlement offer of $70 million to resolve the matter, and on Sept. 30 an attorney for the plaintiffs provided a $6 million settlement demand to Chipotle’s attorneys.
The case is still in the discovery phase.