Theft 00 noun_21302We’re getting disillusioned with Chipotle. First, the food safety problem, for which we had some sympathy. Now this, for which we have none. But we do have a way to fight back.

10,000 Chipotle workers have joined a 2014 class action lawsuit that says the company “routinely requires its hourly-paid restaurant employees to work ‘off the clock,’ without pay, by various means, including, but not limited to, utilizing timekeeping devices that automatically punch employees off the clock, even if they are still working.”




The allegations laid out in the suit make a great first draft of a “How to Commit Wage Theft” checklist:

  • Forcing employees to clock out after reaching 40 hours in a week, then keep working
  • Working on holidays and not being compensated properly
  • Requiring employees to attend after-shift meetings (and not paying them for that time)
  • Automatically clocking people out before they were finished working
  • Moving people’s overtime hours to the next week and paying straight time (yes, that’s illegal)
  • Fail to keep proper time records

All of these schemes violate the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and Chipotle was founded in 1993, so it’s not like they forgot to update the HR manual.

What’s particularly galling about the Chipotle situation is that they don’t have franchisees, who often “go rogue” and commit wage theft without the franchisor’s knowledge. All of these are company-owned and -operated stores run by Chipotle managers.

And it doesn’t matter if there are corporate policies that prohibit these acts; it’s what happens on the floor when managers are told to cut payroll costs beyond their ability to serve customers. Something gives, and it’s usually the employees’ paychecks.

Fighting Back

One way to fight back is for workers to stop relying on company timekeeping systems that automatically keep their own record of the hours they actually work. Instead they can track their own hours, so they can compare their record against the company’s, and potentially nip the problem in the bud. If the worst happens, they have solid documentation for filing a lawsuit.

While there’s nothing magic about tracking your hours (you can do it in a notebook), HourVoice has created a time-tracking feature (HourTracker) that lets you record your shifts and build a timesheet.

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HourTracker calculates your gross pay (no, we don’t do your taxes), and you can compare this number to your paystub.

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It’ll take some time to develop a consistent habit of tracking your hours, but given that one study showed that low-wage workers lose over $3,000 a year when they only make $20,000, this is a very lucrative habit to have.