Christian V. McOmber, Peter D. Valenzano, and Lauren M. Hill represent Quincidy Boston in a whistleblower retaliation claim against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. and Chipotle Services, LLC. Named defendants in the lawsuit include Ms. Boston’s supervisors during her employment, Julia Burke, Hilda Quezada, and Anthony Rentas.
The Complaint alleges that Ms. Boston was terminated from her position as an Assistant Manager with Chipotle after objecting to management’s directive to forego necessary and legally required food safety checks throughout her shifts. These checks included the “Chipotle Wellness Check” and food temperature checks to ensure food was being prepared and stored to safety standards. Management also pressured Ms. Boston to fraudulently indicate that such inspections had occurred in the store’s “Black Book,” the store’s FDA required Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points compliance record when they in fact had not. Chipotle’s management even went so far as to forge the Black Book records themselves, writing that legally required inspections had been completed when they had not.
The Complaint also alleges Ms. Boston was instructed by Chipotle’s management to falsify the company’s daily COVID-19 checks. Ms. Boston was told to indicate that employees had no symptoms without actually surveying them to ensure this was accurate.
As further alleged in the Complaint, in April 2022, a customer vomited at the restaurant. Rather than abide by Chipotle’s standard operating procedure to clean the spill, which would require employees to use a spill kit and personal protective equipment, and then leave their shift afterward, Chipotle management instructed an employee to clean the spill without the proper personal protective equipment and then return to the line, preparing and serving food.
Ms. Boston objected to each of these food safety violations, however, her concerns were brushed aside. Fearing that Chipotle’s negligent and reckless approach to food safety would result in a customer or employee falling ill, Ms. Boston requested a demotion from her management position, citing Chipotle’s unlawful and unsafe conduct as the reason. However, as alleged in the Complaint, Chipotle refused to let Ms. Boston take the demotion. When Ms. Boston escalated the issue to Chipotle’s corporate ethics portal, she was terminated.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Union County Superior Court, alleges violations of New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. Ms. Boston seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
“As alleged in the Complaint, Chipotle shirked its clear duty under New Jersey Law to abide by well-established food safety standards. When our client objected to this conduct and voiced concerns for the health and safety of Chipotle’s customers and employees, she was subjected to retaliation and ultimately terminated. We stand united with our client in exposing this outrageous and unlawful behavior.” Lauren M. Hill, Esq.