Chipotle manager accused of harassing worker over ‘threesome’

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in federal court in San Jose Monday, alleging the restaurant chain allowed a local female manager to sexually harass a male employee and then retaliated against him when he complained.

The employee, Austin Melton, was 22 when he transferred from Chipotle’s Cupertino branch to work as a shift manager at the company’s North Capitol Avenue outlet in San Jose in 2015.

The lawsuit alleges that the San Jose restaurant’s female general manager, whose name is not given, subjected Melton to unwelcome sexual comments and propositions and groped his buttocks and groin area numerous times.

It also claims the general manager kept a sexual score board and each day asked Melton and other employees whether they had intercourse the night before.

Additionally, the suit alleges the general manager told Melton:

“I want to watch you have sex with your girlfriend.”

And:

“I want to do a threesome with you and your girlfriend.”

The lawsuit says that after Melton complained to a supervisor in September and October 2015, the harassment continued and other employees retaliated by locking him in a freezer and moving his motorcycle to a different parking lot.

It said that because of the harassment and retaliation, he felt compelled to resign on Oct. 23, 2015.

The lawsuit asks for an injunction prohibiting the company from “failing to prevent and failing to promptly correct an offensive, abusive, intimidating and hostile workplace on the basis of sex.”

It also seeks financial compensation for Melton for lost pay, pain and suffering as well as a punitive award for alleged “malicious and reckless conduct.” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Denver-based Chipotle, said:

“As a matter of policy, we don’t discuss details surrounding pending legal action. … But I’d note that we don’t tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form, and take appropriate action any time we receive reports of such issues in any of our restaurants.”