Judge Declares Chipotle’s Social Media Policy Violates Labor Laws

By Shawn Paul Wood Comment

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The much-ballyhooed burrito roller of late, Chipotle, has been in the press for all the wrong reasons. Typically, what helps the company cope with stress is working the jokes on social media.

That is until this week, when an administrative judge ruled that Chipotle’s social media policy actually violated federal labor laws in the Pennsylvania civil suit: James Kennedy v. Chipotle.

Kennedy, who worked for Chipotle Mexican Grill near Philadelphia, sued for back wages because of a few misguided tweets against his former employer. At the heart of Kennedy’s termination was his trying to recruit employees to sign a petition about (the sore lack of) work breaks in the stores.

He repeatedly criticized Chipotle on Twitter and tried to get fellow employees to sign a petition about work breaks there. And then Kennedy found himself out of a job.

“ChipotleTweets, nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members make only $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?” read Kennedy’s tweet.

The 38-year-old reportedly deleted the post after a supervisor alerted him to the company’s social media policy, which banned “disparaging, false” statements about Chipotle.

The ruling not only forces Chipotle to offer Kennedy re-employment and compensation for lost wages, but also makes the company look at its labor laws.

Judge Susan Flynn has also ordered Chipotle to post signs acknowledging that some of its employee policies, in particular its social media rules, were illegal. The ruling marks a major precedent in the fight for the social media rights of fast-food workers protesting wages and working conditions.

Kennedy didn’t have a slouch court-appointed attorney either. He was represented by The Pennsylvania Workers Organizing Committee, which saw this as a win-win for its vocal and visible appeal for fast-food employees’ wages with its “Fight for $15” campaign.

Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dogpiled with the complaints filed by the organization, contending that Chipotle behaved “unethically.” Chipotle has not commented on the ruling but perhaps a tweet will be forthcoming.

Funny how those burritos are tasting like a bitter pill now, huh?

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