The New York Daily News reported on Monday that a Manhattan woman is suing Chipotle because they fired her from her job after she took time off to recover from an attack from her abusive boyfriend. From The News:
Natasha Velez, 27, claims she fractured her left index finger last year when her then-boyfriend choked her. A doctor told her to take time off for two weeks. When she returned to work, she claims her manager told her she had ‘too many issues’ outside of work and fired her.
In?the court?complaint,?Velez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill et al., 1:14-cv-02625, Velez cites a New York law that?prohibits violence and disability discrimination?–?New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law???290?et seq.
Beyond the ethics issue at play here, this is a practical matter. Velez had a fractured index finger. From the?complaint:
Her job duties required the use of both her hands in a fast-paced work environment, including manual food preparation (i.e., chopping vegetables, preparing guacamole, and other similar?
responsibilities), food and drink service, customer service, and working the register. Ms. Velez was also occasionally required to lift heavy boxes.
Velez was stunned when her manager told her that he would have to “let her go.”
?He just sat me down and said, ?I’m going to have to let you go,?? she told the Daily News.
“I’m like, ‘Let go? I don’t understand why.’ And he said, ‘Oh, well, you have too many outside issues. There’s nothing wrong with your job performance. It’s just your situation outside work.”
This isn’t just about lost work and productivity, however. It seems that the restaurant manager may have refused to protect Velez in the workplace.?
Ms. Velez’s manager at the Third Avenue Chipotle restaurant, Delmas (last name unknown), was aware that Ms. Velez was in a violent domestic relationship. In or around December 2012, Ms. Velez’s then-boyfriend came to the Third Avenue Chipotle restaurant during her shift, asking for her. Ms. Velez told Delmas that her then-boyfriend had been violent with her in the past, that she did not want to speak to him, and requested that Delmas ask him to leave the restaurant. Delmas agreed to ask but said that he could not “make” the former boyfriend leave. (Source)
Losing her job quickly caused instability in Velez’ life.
“It’s been a bumpy ride since losing my job,” she said, rocking Nala in her arms in her spare but neat East Harlem home. “Before, I was consistent with paying my bills. Now I’m in housing court for my apartment. I have a newborn baby. I’m struggling to provide for her, let alone myself.”
It’s not frequently enough discussed that domestic violences?causes women to miss work. From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
To illustrate the extent of this problem, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, using data from 2007, found that?victims lose almost 8 million days of paid work per year. That’s equal to more than?32,000 full-time jobs and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity.
Tiffany Willis is the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with ?the least of these? and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics she discusses,?subscribe to her public updates on Facebook,?follow her on Twitter, or?connect with her via LinkedIn. She also has a?grossly neglected personal blog?and a?literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.