A nation-wide restaurant chain is in the news recently because some of its employees are claiming that the business required them to perform work while "off-the-clock." Chipotle Mexican Grill, which shares an ownership group with the ubiquitous McDonald's fast food chain, is being accused of making workers work without pay, including Oklahoma workers.
Chipotle, which has locations throughout Oklahoma, is one of the newer "high-end" fast food concepts that offers something other than burgers and fries. Unfortunately, according to some of its employees, it also serves up wage and hour violations. In class action lawsuits filed in other states, the workers allege that the company's time clock would automatically "punch out" employees at a certain time, even when those employees were still in the process of cleaning up the store. According to one former staffer, he worked several hours for free each week. He claims that if he complained about the situation, he would be threatened with termination or retaliated against by having his scheduled hours cut.
A manager with the chain at a different location said that the management of the company made it clear that her job depended on having her workers punched out at the end of scheduled shifts, regardless of whether work was completed. There are also claims that employees had to attend mandatory meetings for which they were not compensated. The restaurant says it abides by all wage and hour laws.
Federal and Oklahoma state law require that employers follow all regulations with regard to hours worked and overtime pay. Requiring work "off-the-clock" for hourly employees is certainly illegal. Not only can employers engaging in such practices face regulatory penalties, but workers who have been damaged by such behavior may be entitled to compensation. Anyone who has been forced to work without pay, or threatened with retaliation for complaining about violations should consider consulting a legal professional.
Source: KOCO, "Chipotle workers say they work extra hours for no pay," Oct. 29, 2014