Foodservice Equipment Reports

Chipotle Hiring Practices Get New Scrutiny

Chipotle Mexican Grill received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 17 as part of an expanding investigation into its alleged hiring of undocumented workers.

The Denver-based chain fired about 500 employees more than a year ago following audits by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm.

Chipotle says that it intends to fully cooperate with the SEC's investigation. The subpoena requested "information regarding our compliance with employee work authorization requirements, our related public statements and other disclosures, and related information," Chipotle said in a filing.

The popular chain is the highest profile U.S. company to come under ICE scrutiny since it shifted its enforcement focus to employers from workers in 2009. Chipotle owns and operates all of its restaurants and bears ultimate responsibility for hiring. During the first fiscal quarter ended April 19, Chipotle opened 32 new restaurants, bringing the total restaurant count to 1,262.

In a side note, a bill is moving through California's legislature to grant state work permits to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who are already preparing foodservice meals, harvesting crops and cleaning offices. The California legislation would be similar to a bill passed in Utah in March ’11 legalizing some immigrant workers if the Department of Homeland Security granted a waiver; in Utah, that waiver was never granted.

Similar legislation was introduced in Oklahoma in December after a state crackdown forced many illegal immigrant workers south to Texas, hurting Oklahoma's construction industry.

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