An underage former employee of Chipotle recently received a $7.65 million settlement following the sexual harassment lawsuit she and her mother brought against an adult supervisor of the restaurant chain.
Underage Chipotle Employee Receives $7.65 in Sexual Assault Settlement
A 16-year-old former employee of Chipotle has won a settlement of $7.65 million after she was repeatedly sexually harassed by her adult supervisor while working at the burrito-chain. After just a few hours of deliberation, the jury found Chipotle at fault for not properly supervising its employees conduct.
According to Adrian Villacorta, the victim’s attorney, managers of the Houston-area Chipotle where the girl was employed encouraged the teen to have unprotected sex during work hours and while on breaks. The suit was filed originally in 2014 and claims that both the manager and supervising manager were involved in the sexual harassment of the teen.
“The fact of the matter is that these sexual assaults were being committed by managers,” said Villacorta. “These aren’t low-level crew members. These are managers, agents of the corporation. So the jury grasped on to that concept - that the manager who was committing sexual assaults and an upper level manager who helped facilitate the assaults, were Chipotle. What they knew, Chipotle knew.”
The girl’s former manager has allegedly fled to Mexico and his exact whereabouts remain unknown. Additionally, the manager continued to receive promotions, according to Villacorta, even after the sexual assaults were reported. The manager was eventually fired, but not because of the sexual assault charges, but instead because it was determined he had lied during the on-going investigation, according to Villacorta.
Victim Received $7.65 Settlement
The girl eventually quit her job as a result of the sexual assault she was subjected to. “The thing that sets this case apart is that the victim was a child,” says Villacorta. “She was 16 years old. And Chipotle was trying to make a defense that a 16-year-old can welcome sexual conduct. And the laws of the state of Texas clearly provide that if you’re under 17, you cannot consent to sexual activity.”
Chipotle might appeal the case, according to Villacorta. “At no point has Chipotle ever even apologized for this,” says Villacorta. “And I find that reprehensible. They refuse to take any type of responsibility.”
Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold made this statement: “none of [Chipotle’s] employees were made aware of this relationship which took place outside of work.”
Chipotle also provided the following statement:
We care deeply about all of our employees, but even our rigorous policies specifically designed to protect our employees cannot prevent private relationships that happen away from the workplace during non-work hours, such as occurred in this case. We continue to offer our support for this former employee, and hope for her wellbeing. Chipotle goes to great lengths to provide safe and productive work environments. We have internal policies, procedures, and training to address issues and potential problems between employees if ever they arise. None of our employees were made aware of this relationship which took place outside of work. We learned of it only when the former employee’s parents demanded money and filed a lawsuit, and by that time neither of the employees worked for the company any longer.
What is “Sexual Assault”
Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of a recipient. Included under the term sexual assault are the following: forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.
Addressing Sexual Assault Accusations
Sexual assault crimes are taken very seriously by the law. If you have been falsely accused you might assume that the charges will just be dropped because of how ludicrous they are to you. These types of allegations do not just “go away,” and you will need to be prepared if you are falsely accused.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Do not speak with police or investigators until you have contacted a criminal defense attorney. They might try different tactics to get you to admit to a crime you did not commit. Remember that they are always trying to build a case. Simply state that you will not speak with them unless there is an attorney present.
2. Get in touch with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible, even if you just expect the charges to be dismissed. Prepare for what the allegations might bring. You will be asked to defend yourself, so you’ll need to be prepared. This means contacting witnesses that can testify or provide an alibi for you. You might also need to take psychological tests, or be asked to provide other evidence. Write down as many details as possible about what you remember.
3. Study. A criminal defense attorney will be able to guide you through fighting the allegations, but it’s in your best interest to understand the legal process and know your rights.
You will want to follow all the legal rules and precautions you can, and the best way you can protect yourself is by working with an experienced defense attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC.
If You Get Arrested for a Sex Crime
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona, that individuals arrested because they are believed to have committed a crime are allowed certain rights that must be explained to them. This must happen before any interrogation. It’s important to note that these rights only need to be read when a person has been taken into custody. “Miranda Rights” are meant to protect a suspect from self-incrimination and is protected under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Those “Miranda Rights” are as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
- If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
Why Work with a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
When faced with serious penalties or spending time in jail or prison, you need to retain a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court. If you are facing an assault or battery charge, or a theft charge, a criminal defense attorney will investigate your case’s specifics and determine if you were wrongfully charged. They also will be able to identify if there are any other existing reasons for why the case should be dismissed before it goes to trial. If the charges are not dismissed before trial, a criminal attorney may be able negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf. If a plea bargain cannot be negotiated, a criminal defense attorney will prepare your defense and represent you at trial.
Working with Sevens Legal, APC
After you have discussed the specifics of your case, your Sevens Legal, APC, will let you know your case’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any possible risks associated with punishment and convictions you may face. Your Sevens Legal, APC, defense attorney can help negotiate a plea deal or whether the best course of action is to move forward to trial, while working constantly for your best interests.
Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers put our experience to work for you. Every defendant deserves a zealous defense. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers, call (619) 494-3440. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
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