The National Labor Relations Board upheld Thursday an administrative law judge ruling in April that found a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in violation of labor laws for threatening and interrogating employees who discussed their pay.
The case involved a restaurant in St. Louis, where an employee, Patrick Leeper, had been fired in 2014 after participating in strikes demanding higher wages and discussing his pay with coworkers.
Leeper was a member of a union at the restaurant and participated in “Show Me 15” campaigns seeking to increase the minimum wage in Missouri to $15 per hour.
Chipotle contended that Leeper was fired for not attending mandatory all-restaurant meetings and for poor performance. But the board agreed with administrative law judge Melissa Olivero that Leeper was unfairly terminated for engaging in protected union activity.
Additionally, the board agreed that the restaurant’s managers had illegally interrogated employees about who among them had been discussing wages and benefits, threatened them, and prohibited them from talking about the issue.
Restaurant officials also told an employee not to speak to union representatives and implied that a worker would get higher pay if he didn’t participate in union activities, according to the board’s decision.
Chipotle was ordered to offer Leeper his job back and to compensate him for lost earnings and benefits.
The company did not respond to requests for comment at press time.
Denver-based Chipotle is not the only restaurant chain to be cited for unfair labor practices tied to the Fight for $15 movement.
McDonald’s USA is battling a number of complaints before the NLRB in an ongoing case that is likely to have industrywide implications for franchise operators.
A Freshii franchise operator, Nutritionality Inc., has also been charged with illegally terminating or disciplining two workers for attempting to organize a union.