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ICE expands Chipotle hiring practices probe

Federal investigators visited as many as 30 Chipotle locations across the country this week in an ongoing criminal investigation into the fast-casual chain’s hiring practices.

Chipotle officials declined to reveal the locations of the units that were visited, but news reports cited Georgia, California, Washington, D.C. and Minnesota, among others.

In a call to analysts last month following the release of first-quarter results, Chipotle co-chief executive Monty Moran confirmed that the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., had asked to review documents related to an ongoing investigation being conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE.

Moran described the criminal probe as typical following ICE sweeps.

Officials with the 1,100-unit chain said Wednesday that the company has not been forced to dismiss large numbers of employees based on the current probe.

Earlier this year, Chipotle dismissed 450 workers after ICE officials questioned the validity of immigration documents required to prove eligibility to work in the United States. The ICE investigation was later expanded to include Chipotle locations in Virginia and Washington, D.C., where another 40 employees were dismissed.

As a result of the ICE investigation, Chipotle has strengthened hiring procedures for verifying employment.

The company now uses the electronic E-Verify system to check worker eligibility and has shifted to an electronic I-9 form to eliminate errors. In addition, Chipotle appointed a specialist at company headquarters in Denver to offer a second level of screening for documents.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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