Investigation of Chipotle Increases: On May 4, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) expanded its investigation into the employment practices Chipotle. The expanded investigation reportedly involved ICE visiting 20 to 25 more Chipotle restaurants in the Washington D.C. area.
Chipotle has allegedly already had to dismiss 40 workers in other restaurants after audits of Chipotle restaurants in the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas. Chipotle announced last month that the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington D.C. has joined the investigation against Chipotle.
ICE allegedly began the investigation of Chipotle in December 2010 in Chipotle restaurants located in Minnesota by auditing the company’s I-9 employment eligibility forms. Chipotle has reportedly had to dismiss 400 workers in restaurants in Minnesota.
Pat’s Take: Things do not look good for Chipotle if all reports are true. It will be interesting to see the final result. ICE is taking the investigation of Chipotle seriously. The investigation of Chipotle could likely span hundreds of restaurants in several states before the investigation is all said and done.
The current situation with Chipotle serves as an ominous warning for any businesses that operate across the United States. ICE may isolate its investigation on one of the business’s location. It may decide to increase its investigation if enough immigration law violations are found. This is why all employers must develop immigration compliance plans policies and procedures as well as training its hiring professionals on how to comply with immigration law so its business does not end up in a similar situation as Chipotle.
Pat Mack Corporate Immigration Attorney Director of Training, Corporate Immigration Compliance Institute