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NYSDOL Recovers $1 Million in Unpaid Wages from Chipotle


In the two years since she announced a major crackdown on wage theft, Governor Kathy Hochul claims the New York State Department of Labor has investigated and recovered more than $63 million in stolen wages for nearly 65,000 workers across New York State.

As part of her announcement, the Governor also celebrated the investigation and recovery of over $1 million in unpaid wages for more than 20,000 Chipotle restaurant workers across 207 locations statewide. Individual recoveries for workers ranged from $10 to over $3,600, highlighting what she says is the State’s unwavering commitment to ensuring fair compensation and combating wage theft.

New York State Department of Labor’s $1 Million Wage Recovery From Chipotle

The significant $1 million wage recovery from Chipotle stems from a thorough investigation by NYSDOL’s Division of Labor Standards. After a tip from the Workers’ Compensation Board, NYSDOL investigated and found wage issues related to the correct minimum wage rate for fast-food workers, which is higher than the regular minimum wage. Investigators also found wage issues for spread-of-hours pay, which requires employers to pay additional time to workers whose shifts span more than ten hours in any one day. After these discoveries, NYSDOL asked Chipotle to review their pay records from December 2018 to September 2022. 

During this review, NYSDOL received an additional complaint alleging that Chipotle had stopped paying certain required wages. Chipotle attributed this to a system error and conducted another records review spanning August 2021 to July 2023. This review revealed more pay issues. As a result, the combined investigations led to significant money due. Chipotle directly paid all active employees and provided the funds to NYSDOL to pay former employees the money owed.

As part of NYSDOL’s Worker Protection Division, the Division of Labor Standards utilizes a variety of enforcement strategies to accomplish its mission and carry out program priorities to uphold labor standards in a variety of industries statewide. This allows for the needed flexibility to perform core mission work while implementing new rules and laws. Self-audits allow cooperative employers to quickly identify amounts owed to workers and rectify monetary violations quickly. The Division of Labor Standards units carry out several specialized functions:

  • Field District Offices routinely conduct on-site investigations to review records, interview witnesses, verify compliance and expand investigations beyond the original complaint if necessary. They work closely with employers to ensure compliance and collect restitution for workers.
  • The Mediation Unit provides opportunities for employees and employers to reach fair and speedy resolution to conflicts regarding allegations of labor rights violations. Mediation takes place before or during an investigation and before formal notices are issued. This provides both sides with an opportunity to be heard, to be educated about the State’s labor laws, and to resolve underlying issues in an expeditious manner.
  • The Central Investigations Unit investigates basic wage or wage supplement claims received using an expedited approach. A demand letter is sent to employers within 48 hours of case creation, allowing the Division to be able to accept a high volume of smaller claims from individual workers owed wages.

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