Chipotle Fired Her. Now It Has to Pay Her $8M

Former manager Jeanette Ortiz was accused of stealing $626
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2018 2:11 AM CDT
The logo for Chipotle appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 23, 2018.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – She was called a thief. Now she can be called a millionaire. The Fresno Bee reports on the outcome of a wrongful termination lawsuit against a Chipotle in Fresno, Calif., that ended in favor of a manager who was fired in January 2015. Jeanette Ortiz, who had been with the company 14 years and was pulling in $70,000 annually, filed a worker's comp claim in December 2014 over carpal tunnel syndrome. The following month she went on medical leave and was then fired, with her bosses accusing her of stealing $626 from the restaurant's safe, an act they say was caught on video. Except they wouldn't show her the video, and then destroyed it. On Thursday, jurors awarded Ortiz $7.97 million in damages.

Robert Hinckley, a lawyer for Chipotle, tried to make the case that the mother of nine took the money because she was in financial distress. Ortiz's lawyer countered that the false claim was all part of a scheme to get rid of her over the worker's comp claim, which was her fourth. Warren Paboojian further alleged that her superiors didn't just destroy the supposed video evidence but also got rid of text messages and notes related to her firing. A rep for Chipotle on Friday told Nation's Restaurant News that the chain is "disappointed with the verdict in this case and [plans] to appeal this decision." (This woman sued Chipotle for billions over a photo.)

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