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My Chipotle nightmare: Employee speaks out

5 Stunning stats about Chipotle

Alex Simon believes Chipotle dismissed him for refusing to attend in, what he calls, a “shady practices.”

There were many instances that he found controversial during his six-year career during Chipotle (CMG), where he started portion burritos during a age of 17. But zero of them unequivocally struck him as egregious, until this past summer.

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The association paid for him to pierce from his hometown of St. Louis to conduct a Chipotle in Little Rock. This was his large possibility to advance, a now 23-year-old was told. Chipotle even gave him $6,000 for a move, according to recompense stubs common with CNNMoney.

Just before a 4th of July, he started his pursuit as an partner manager in Little Rock. From day one, things seemed fishy. Simon says highers ups told him to cheat workers out of pay. Employees stating to him were “very often” operative some-more than 40 hours, he says, that should have triggered overtime pay. But he claims he was told to undo any hours above 40.

The goal: Keep labor costs low.

“It was directly said, ‘You know, if we need to go into a mechanism and trim hours off, do it,'” Simon told CNNMoney.

Simon refused. He says he told them, “I can’t do that. It’s illegal. It’s unethical.”

Related: Chipotle sales down 22%. Customers still scared

Threat he would mislay his job

He says one of a aloft ups warned him if he didn’t do what he was told, he would be out of a job. He would also have to repay a relocating reward he had only received.

Still, Simon wouldn’t do it. He was dismissed only a month after he started in Little Rock. An area manager he had never met called him and told him he was let go for “unacceptable performance.” He says he mislaid a reward money.

CNNMoney reached out to several Chipotle managers who manage Arkansas stores. None responded to requests for comment. Former co-workers of Simon’s contend he was a good trainer and they were repelled he was let go. One called Chipotle in Little Rock a “terrible culture.”

The association wouldn’t criticism privately on Simon’s firing, though a orator told CNNMoney, “It had positively zero to do with a allegations about refusing to recompense employees for operative overtime.”

Related: Why I’m suing Chipotle for ‘wage theft’

“All of a policies clearly need that employees are paid for all of a time they work,” orator Chris Arnold said. “We have elementary procedures in place for employees to solve any errors in their payroll should any such emanate arise.”

Simon is not alone in accusing a association of intrigue workers. CNNMoney pennyless a news in Aug that 10,000 stream and former employees have filed a category movement lawsuit opposite Chipotle for creation them work overtime though pay. His story is identical to what countless workers in other states have told CNNMoney about what went on during their stores.

Chipotle says a lawsuit — famous as Turner v. Chipotle — has no consequence and that a association will quarrel it in court. Simon contend he’s perplexing to join a Turner suit. In a meantime, a U.S. Congresswoman is calling for a sovereign examination into Chipotle over either it cheated workers on pay.

Related: Lawmaker: Investigate Chipotle for salary theft

alex simon chipotle worker

Promotions came quick during Chipotle

At first, Simon desired Chipotle. He started operative on a “burrito line” when he was in high school. His friends in St. Louis would come in mostly and tell him how cold it was that he worked there.

The association mostly promotes immature people like Simon into government positions. By a time he was 21, Simon was handling a store in St. Louis. In fact, he was doing so good during Chipotle, he forsaken out of village college to concentration on his career.

“They gave me an opportunity. we went by all a ranks of government inside a restaurant,” Simon says.

But he started seeing things weren’t utterly right. Workers were ostensible to finish shifts by 11 pm. That frequency happened, he says. They would have to stay until midnight or even 1 am to keep cleaning and scheming for a subsequent day, though he says they were frequency paid for any work over 11 pm.

He recalls one of his initial bosses in St. Louis shopping a group pizza several times to compensate.

Related: Chipotle to recompense 16-year-old scarcely $8 million for ‘outrageous’ passionate assault

An ‘endemic’ problem?

Simon says he kept his mouth close since a association kept charity him promotions. There was what he calls a “silent agreement” to work off a time in sequence to pierce up.

When he became a manager himself in St. Louis, he claims he was means to safeguard his employees were always paid for their work since his store was unequivocally profitable, so there wasn’t heated inspection over labor costs.

But when he changed to Little Rock, he says a store wasn’t doing good and he was categorically asked to change recompense and hours. One of his former colleagues told CNNMoney operative additional hours though being paid “happened all a time” in Little Rock.

Not profitable grill workers sincerely is “endemic” in a grill industry, says Serge Martinez, a law highbrow during a University of New Mexico who specializes in low-wage workman cases.

“If we wish to equivocate restaurants that underpay their workers in some way, afterwards we can never go out to eat,” Martinez says. But even he was astounded that Chipotle — a association with a purify repute and a aphorism like “Food with Integrity” — is compared with these problems.

Related: Nearly 10,000 workers sue Chipotle for delinquent wages

The E. coli backlash

Simon feels a vigour to cut costs unequivocally increasing after a vital E. coli conflict during Chipotle final year. It severely shop-worn a company’s repute and profits. His store in Little Rock was generally struggling. His bosses monitored labor costs zealously.

The association entered predicament mode as it attempted to reconstruct a image. Simon recalls company-wide phone calls where tip government pronounced something to a outcome of: “We’re going to have to do some things we haven’t finished before. We gotta stay afloat.”

Sales during existent stores have tight 22%, according to Chipotle’s latest quarterly gain news Tuesday. Founder and co-CEO Steve Ells attempted to highlight a association is winning business back. But Wall Street isn’t shopping a turnaround story. The stock plummeted 9% Wednesday.

Chipotle’s arch financial officer done it a indicate to contend on a call with analysts this week that a association “encouraged additional staffing in a restaurants” newly to safeguard a improved patron experience. Labor costs have risen compared to a year ago.

Related: Housing burble fears have returned

After he was fired, Simon debated bringing his possess lawsuit opposite Chipotle, though he says he doesn’t have a income for his possess lawyer. For now, he’s focusing on relocating on with his life. He has another grill job.

He says he spoke to CNNMoney so that others during Chipotle know they aren’t alone.

“I wish everybody employed by this association to get paid for each notation they are working,” Simon said.

To hit a contributor on this story, email heather.long@cnn.com.

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