Terminating Before you Investigate

Social media: every employer’s double-edged sword.  Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to reach millions of potential customers and clients with one click.  But when negative feedback about an employee shows up in your mentions, your first instinct may to be terminate first, ask questions later.  Chipotle made that mistake with one of its Minnesota franchises, and is now backtracking on its rash decision.

A Minnesota Chipotle franchise terminated a manager for refusing to serve a group of young African-American men before they paid for their food.  When one of the men tweeted a video of the manager informing the men that they must pay for their food before being served, the tweet went viral and Chipotle immediately terminated the manager.  But the story doesn’t end there: the public responded to the termination, directing Chipotle’s attention to numerous tweets made by the young man who posted the video.  His tweets contained multiple references to “dining and dashing” at the manager’s Chipotle location, shedding some light on the manager’s non-discriminatory reasons for asking the men to pay.

Chipotle had a knee-jerk response to some allegations on social media and is now facing further PR backlash for terminating a manager before it had all the facts.  Helping employers conduct effective, thorough employment investigations is just one of the many talents of the experienced employment attorneys at myHRcounsel.  Contact us before you’re faced with making the tough decisions about investigating incidents and terminating employees.