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Chipotle's Latest Lawsuit: Former Employees Charge the Burrito Company With Sexual Discrimination

It alleges a pattern of sexism that's hard to ignore.

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Chipotle fired one woman and replaced her with a man two months after her boss wrote that "he was very impressed" with her performance. Another Chipotle employee was terminated after a string of promotions and an exemplary review from her supervisor. A third took maternity leave after giving birth to twins. The new mother promptly lost one of the babies, returned to work at Chipotle while the surviving newborn was still hospitalized, and was terminated soon thereafter. All three women, all former general managers at Chipotle restaurants in Greater Cincinnati, have now filed suit in U.S. District Court against the fast casual chain for sex discrimination.

The conduct of two male Chipotle employees, Herman Mobbs, a former area manager, and his supervisor, Brian Patterson, is at the heart of the case, reports "There sure are a lot of overweight women working here," the former once remarked.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs alleged a pattern of sexism from both men before a jury of three men and five women this week. The defendants countered that the women were fired for poor performance, not because of gender. "These women were terminated because they did not meet the basic standards of restaurant management," Chipotle's counsel told jurors. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

The sex discrimination suit is yet another bad PR chapter for the burrito empire. Chipotle's other woes include a potential norovirus cover-up in California, fallout from a flurry of E. coli cases, and this nasty civil lawsuit filed by investors.