On August 12, 2020, popular food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (“Chipotle”) was served with proposed class claims in federal court in the District of Arizona, alleging that the company discriminates against female employees who are breast feeding.
In the complaint, named plaintiff Noel Hendrix alleges that Chipotle’s discriminatory behavior against nursing mothers violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Chipotle fails to give nursing employees proper breaks to pump breastmilk during their scheduled shift.
Plaintiff claims that while she was employed at an Arizona Chipotle location from March 2016 to December 2016, she needed to take regular breaks to pump, typically no more than once or twice per shift. The plaintiff argues that if she didn’t regularly pump, her breasts would become painfully engorged and leak breast milk. However, on December 29, 2016, the plaintiff was told by management that the restaurant was too busy during her shift for her to take break time to pump breastmilk.
The plaintiff alleges she was subsequently forced to continue working at her position as a customer-facing cashier. Within 20 minutes of being told she could not take a short break, the plaintiff alleges that the front of her uniform was noticeably soaked in breast milk. Only then did management allow the plaintiff 15 minutes to pump.
The suit claims that upon returning to her position at the register, her shirt still soaked in breast milk, the plaintiff was called into the manager’s office and berated for requesting break time to pump and was allegedly told that complaining to upper management about the incident was useless. The plaintiff discovered that her situation was not unique and that other nursing mothers working for Chipotle had similar experiences, leading her to file a formal complaint with the EEOC. Plaintiff alleged that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender and pregnancy in violation of Title VII.
The plaintiff seeks to represent a class made up of all current or former employees of Chipotle who requested to pump or express breast milk during their shifts, but were denied the requests and/or who were subject to hostility or harassment for requesting to have a pump break between March 9, 2016 and January 3, 2017.
The case is: Hendrix v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No.: 2:20-cv-01595, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
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