City Desk

Pregnant D.C. Chipotle Worker Sues, Says Manager Limited Her Bathroom and Water Breaks

If a lawsuit is to be believed, Chipotle's incentives for its store managers can get ugly competitive. A former employee of the downtown M Street Chipotle is suing the fast-casual chain for pregnancy discrimination, alleging that her supervisor harassed and subjected her to disparate work policies upon learning she was pregnant.

In the suit, Doris Nohemi Garcia Hernandez assigns a potential motive to her boss: his ambition to win Chipotle's Restaurateur Program, which rewards top-performing store managers by promoting them to district or regional management positions. According to the suit, David (the suit only refers to him by his first name) called a meeting in November 2011 to tell his employees he would be participating in the competition and asked them to work harder to exceed sales goals, so he could win.

Hernandez told David about her pregnancy later that month, and despite previously receiving excellent work performance reviews, she was fired about two months later, according to the suit. She alleges that after she informed him she was pregnant, David required her to announce when she was taking bathroom breaks and said he had to approve them, rules to which no other employees were subject. When she returned from the bathroom David often yelled at her for taking too long, the suit says, even though Hernandez says she took bathroom breaks that were the same length as ones she took before she was pregnant. He also denied her breaks and access to water, she alleges.

"Employees at M Street were entitled to a fifteen-minute rest break during each four-hour shift that they worked," the suit states. "After Ms. Garcia announced her pregnancy, David often prohibited Ms. Garcia from taking these breaks, even after Ms. Garcia explained that because she was pregnant, she needed this break to eat."

In January 2012, David asked Garcia to start working longer shifts, saying she was a good employee, the suit says. Garcia agreed. But when she asked David to take off for a prenatal doctor's appointment, he did not give her he a definitive response for days; on the day of the appointment, she said she needed to go, and left. When she went to work the next day, David fired her in front of the other employees and said she was "not giving 100 percent to Chipotle," the suit alleges.

Garcia is suing for economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, and the deprivation of her rights to equal employment. A spokesperson for Chipotle and Garcia's attorney did not return a call for a comment today.

It's unclear whether David won the contest. An employee at the M Street Chipotle said he didn't know of a David working at the store.

Read the lawsuit below:

Photo by sun dazed via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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  • Really

    The manager placed limits on when her water breaks?

  • Che

    Don't know if there are incentives or on what they might be based but there can be vast differences between Chipoltes. The one on M has only ever been so so. The new one on 14th and P has not started off well.

    It seems the ones that focus on making the customers happy do best which is certainly easier if the staff is well treated.

  • StringsAttached

    Doubt she would take it this far if it wasn't true...this will be settled out of court. It's a shame the events described allegedly happened.

  • morphine

    Sounds fishy to me, 1. when you're pregnant, you have to use the bathroom and break to eat ten times as much as you normally would. I think she was allowed her standard break, but is filing because she wasn't allowed extra breaks brought on by her pregnancy. -and no one else had to do that because no one else was pregnant. There can be no doubt she probably wanted a break at least every 25 minutes. No one is forcing her to work pregnant, and it's not chipotle's problem if she's pregnant and chooses to work. They can't accommodate everyone's financial plannings. 2. "Garcia is suing for economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress" That's just "embarrassment" worded ten ways, and it was brought about by her filing this suit. Who the heck else would have known about this incident had she not filed? Do her coworkers know, or even care? probably not. Sounds to me like she's trying to take Chipotle for all they've got. Have you been in Chipotle? it's loud and busy. Would they rally make her announce out loud she was taking a bath. I think the manager just wanted to know if she was leaving. She's just going to yell "I'm going" and leave? Pregnant women also are emotional unstable. She's blowing up this story for attention, and she's got no evidence any of this happened the way she says it did.

  • Gary Graefen

    Crazy stuff :)

  • Sebastian Townview

    Wow. Morphine, your comment is mind-boggling. I wonder what causes the disdain for pregnant women that is so obvious in your post.

    First, your argument bears no resemblance to logic. Want proof? Read this sentence.
    "There can be no doubt she probably wanted a break at least every 25 minutes."

    Second, there is this sentence:
    "No one is forcing her to work pregnant, and it's not chipotle's problem if she's pregnant and chooses to work."
    If she does not work, how will she pay her bills?

    Federal and District law both require Chipotle to make reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee. Reasonable accommodations clearly include access to water, bathroom breaks, and time to eat. This is not only my opinion, it is backed up by a large volume of case law.

    Finally, you claim she has "no evidence." On what do you base this assertion? Making such a claim based on reading a news story and the filing (although your post makes me doubt that you actually read the filing) is clear evidence of poor reasoning skills and a lack of understanding of the judicial process.

    I hope Ms. Garcia prevails in her lawsuit. She certainly has good representation.