Who’s behind Chipotle’s massive, juicy, spicy, fair-trade-to-boot with an extra 30 cents for guacamole burritos? Apparently, illegal immigrants might be. Federal criminal investigations are taking place at the two of the locations in D.C., Glover Park and Georgetown, and across the nation, on the company’s hiring practices.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. met with Chipotle representatives to inform the company about the start of a 2-year investigation of Chipotle’s alleged hiring of undocumented workers. On May 16 the Securities and Exchange Committee delivered a subpoena to Chipotle to expand these investigations, though SEC does not have the power to make criminal charges.
Back in 2010, the company received audits from the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In response to the audit and a following probe from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Chipotle fired 500 workers in Minnesota, more than half the company’s employees.
“Our lawyers said the involvement of the SEC usually happens in cases like this, but what was unusual was that it would get involved in what we thought was the eleventh hour of this investigation,” Chipotle’s Co-Chief Executive Montgomery Moran said to the Wall Street Journal at a Morgan Stanely conference. “Apparently, it’s not; now we’re back to early innings. It could take another year or two before it’s wrapped up.”
The company maintains a resilient response to the investigations. ”We didn’t do anything wrong, so at the end of the day, they aren’t going to find anything,” Moran said to WSJ. “And we have made sure our practices going forward are beyond mere compliance.”