U.S. congresswoman urges Labor Department to probe Chipotle over wage theft allegations
By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. congresswoman urged the Labor Department on Monday to investigate Chipotle Mexican Grill for possible wage theft, another potential hurdle for the burrito chain as it seeks to rebound from food-safety problems last year.
U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, said the department should probe allegations from about 10,000 current and former Chipotle employees who have joined a federal lawsuit that alleges the company did not properly pay them for hours worked.
Such actions, if true, would contradict federal law, DeLauro said in a letter to the department, "depriving workers of the wages and earnings to which they are legally entitled."
Chipotle said her call for an investigation was "misdirected."
"We have maintained from the outset that this case is without merit and will vigorously defend our employment practices," company spokesman Chris Arnold said.
The Labor Department had no immediate comment.
Chipotle has been working to revive sales growth after outbreaks of E. coli, norovirus and salmonella linked to its restaurants sickened more than 500 people last year and drove away customers.
Last week, activist investor William Ackman disclosed that his hedge fund had purchased a 9.9 percent stake in the company, saying it was undervalued. Continued...