Chipotle Mexican Grill He agreed to pay the former employees of the Augusta, Maine location $240,000 as part of a settlement to close the restaurant when the workers tried to unionize.
Chipotle denied any wrongdoing, though the lawsuit was settled with the Federal Labor Board and the union.
“We settled this case not because we did anything wrong, but because the time, effort, and cost of litigation would have far outweighed the settlement agreement,” Chipotle chief corporate affairs officer Lori Shalow said in a statement to CNBC on Monday.
Employees at the Chipotle restaurant petitioned to unionize under Chipotle United in late June, becoming the chain’s first outlet to do so. Prior to registration, workers had already walked out protesting working conditions and staff shortages.
Less than a month later, Chipotle closed the restaurant, citing employment issues and saying it respected workers’ right to organize. However, in November, the National Labor Relations Board found that the burrito chain violated federal labor law when it closed the restaurant and stopped hiring regulators at other locations in the state.
Chipotle restaurant in Teterboro, New Jersey.
SOPA Pictures | Light Rocket | Getty Images
While Chipotle United considered the settlement announced Monday a win, it fell short of reopening the shuttered location.
Now, former employees of the shuttered Augusta location will receive between $5,800 to $21,000 from Chipotle, depending on their average hours, pay rate, and length of service. Chipotle will also offer to place all of these workers on a preferential hiring list for other Maine locations for one year.
Nearly 40 stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will be posting notices saying they will not close stores or discriminate based on union support. Those locations are under the leadership of Chipotle’s regional director who has barred pro-union workers from their jobs at other locations, according to Chipotle United, which is not affiliated with any larger unions.
To date, only one Chipotle location has successfully consolidated. A restaurant in Lansing, Michigan, voted in August to unionize under the International Brotherhood of Unionists.
The burrito chain didn’t see an avalanche of union petitions after regulators’ initial win in Michigan, unlike… Starbucks, which has seen more than 290 signatories unionize in just over a year. But the Starbucks union has accused the company of using similar anti-union tactics, including closing stores. The coffee chain denies all allegations of breaching the union, though former CEO Howard Schultz is set to testify Wednesday before a Senate committee about the company’s conduct.
CNBC channel Kate Rogers Contribute to this report.