June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Former Chipotle Employee Sues Company Alleging Sexual Harassment

Chipotle Mexican Grill news. (Thinkstock)
Chipotle Mexican Grill news. (Thinkstock)

A former Chipotle employee sued the company today, alleging she and other female workers at its Woodland Hills eatery near the Warner Center were sexually harassed by four managers who also used security cameras to spy on women customers they found attractive.

“All four managers created a sexually charged atmosphere directed at female employees and customers,” the lawsuit alleges.

Ariana Castaneda is seeking unspecified damages on allegations of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination.

The plaintiff, who worked for Chipotle from December 2013 until she was fired Feb. 10, was a lead kitchen worker at the chain’s Woodland Hills restaurant on Canoga Avenue, according to her court papers.

Her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., along with Pablo Aguilar, identified as the restaurant’s general manager; supervisor Ruben Hernandez; and service managers Tommy Lee and Erick Morcillo.

A Chipotle representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Castaneda’s position required her to wear a particular uniform, accordin to the lawsuit, which alleges Aguilar purposely ordered a black uniform shirt for her that was too small.  She claims that after she complained and asked for a larger shirt size, Aguilar replied, “Is it because your (breasts) are too big?”

Aguilar ordered another shirt for Castaneda, but it also was too small and he again harassed her about her breast size, the suit alleges.

The plaintiff also alleges Hernandez would try to forcibly hug her and would touch her under her shirt after putting his hands on ice or another cold substance. Castaneda complained and tried to push Hernandez away, according to her court papers.

Morcillo and Lee made inappropriate remarks about the breasts of a female former employee and mocked her because a customer made a critical remark about her on Yelp, the lawsuit alleges.

Morcillo also called female employees derogatory names in Spanish and would reply “whatever” when Castaneda protested, the suit alleges.

The Woodland Hills location is near a gym, and female patrons dressed in workout attire often visited the Chipotle restaurant, the suit states.

“Often, when an attractive woman would walk in, Aguilar would rush to the back office to use the security cameras so he could gain an overhead view of the customer’s cleavage,” the suit alleges.

“He would also make comments such as ‘Oh, look at that view,”‘ according to the lawsuit.

Aguilar, Hernandez and Morcillo often made inappropriate sexual remarks about the bodies of female customers, the suit alleges.

“The managers also would regularly issue a ‘manager comp’ for meals if they thought the female customer was attractive,” according to the lawsuit.

Castaneda says she hurt her left arm, left shoulder and lower back on Feb. 8 while taking out the trash. She alleges Morcillo questioned her about the validity of her injuries, harassed her and called her “lazy” for not helping to lift heavy boxes.

Two days later, Castaneda logged onto her Chipotle employee account and found out she had been fired, according to her court papers. She alleges she lost her job because she complained about conditions in the workplace.

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