The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) initiated legal action Wednesday against restaurant chain Chipotle, accusing it of engaging in religious harassment and retaliatory actions, the federal agency announced in a press release Thursday.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday stems from an incident which took place at a Chipotle restaurant located in Lenexa, Kansas, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that in 2021 an assistant manager at the Lenexa Chipotle location persistently subjected an employee to harassment by repeatedly demanding the employee reveal her hair by removing her hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
He reportedly demanded to see the employee’s hair at least 10 times; she reportedly refused every single time, citing her religious faith. The situation reportedly escalated over several weeks, resulting in the assistant manager allegedly forcibly grabbing and partially removing the employee’s hijab.
A federal agency has sued the restaurant chain Chipotle, accusing it of religious harassment and retaliation after a manager at a Kansas location forcibly removed an employee’s hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. https://t.co/BaW24EzuRA
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) September 30, 2023
The EEOC’s complaint contends the “offensive and incessant requests” for the employee to remove her hijab, coupled with his physical attempt to remove it, created a hostile work environment based on religion. These actions were deemed “unwelcome, intentional, severe … and created a hostile working environment based on religion,” according to the complaint. (RELATED: Catholic Employee Sues Pro-Abortion Labor Union For Forcing Her To Fund Activism)
Laurie Schalow, the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Chipotle, responded to the allegations, stating that Chipotle encourages its employees to report any concerns they may have, offering them multiple avenues for doing so, including an anonymous hotline.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have terminated the employee in question,” Schalow told the Associated Press via a written statement.