Naperville Business Law Attorney Discusses Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against Mexican Food Chain

wrongful termination, Napervile business law attorneyWhen you own a business that employs a staff, it is extremely important to make all personnel-related decisions carefully. Hiring and maintaining the right people are essential to the success of your company, but terminating those who are not pulling their weight is equally critical.

As a business law attorney, I recognize that virtually all companies need to let staff members go from time to time. I also know that firing someone in a manner that is unfair, discriminatory, or otherwise improper can be devastating to a business. A recent, headline-grabbing case involving a popular fast-food chain highlighted the need to terminate employees properly.

Fired While on Injury Leave

In January 2015, a California woman was fired from her job as general manager of a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Fresno. The woman was on medical leave at the time following an injury for which she had filed a worker’s compensation claim a month earlier. According to Chipotle officials, the woman was terminated after she stole $626 from the store’s safe.

The woman refuted the claims that she stole anything and asked to see the video evidence, which management claimed they had. Her bosses declined to show her the video, so she filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination in Fresno County Superior Court.

Malicious Termination

In response to her lawsuit, Chipotle offered the woman $1,000 to settle her case, which she refused in favor of a trial. At trial, the company claimed that it had destroyed the video evidence of the theft but produced witnesses who said the woman took the money. The witnesses, however, could not seem to agree on when the money was last seen or exactly when the theft allegedly occurred. An attorney for the woman also argued that Chipotle deleted text messages and lost notes about their reasons for firing the woman.

After four hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the woman and ordered Chipotle to pay $1.97 million for the loss of past and future wages and $6 million for emotional distress. The parties were scheduled to return to court this week to determine how much Chipotle would pay in punitive damages, but the sides reached an undisclosed settlement on the matter.

Lawyers for woman believe that she was fired because she refused to downplay the injuries related to her worker’s compensation claim.

Contact Us for Help

At The Gierach Law Firm, our experienced Naperville business law attorneys understand how important it is to keep careful records when you intend to fire an employee. We also recognize that failure to do so could result in claims being made against your company. If you require assistance with an employment-related matter, contact our office for a confidential consultation today.

 

Sources:

Washington Post

Fresno Bee

Inc.com