Men in St. Paul Chipotle viral video sue restaurant chain for discrimination, 'smear campaign'

Five young black men who posted a video of their confrontation with a manager at Chipotle in St. Paul, Minnesota last year are now suing the national restaurant chain for discrimination. 

The federal lawsuit, filed Friday, also alleges Chipotle engaged in a “smear campaign” against the men. The group is seeking financial damages for the alleged “humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress and mental anguish” they have endured because of the incident. 

The alleged incident took place on Nov. 15, 2018 at the Chipotle on Grand Avenue. In the video, which went viral shortly after it was posted to Twitter, the service manager accuses the group of dining and dashing and tells them they have to prepay for their food, saying, “You got to pay because you never have money when you come in here.” 

Chipotle fired the service manager after the video circulated, then offered her the job back. 

The lawsuit claims Chipotle reversed its decision to fire the service manager after tweets attributed to the member of the group who posted the video surfaced in the media, allegedly alluding to a history of dining and dashing. 

The lawsuit claims the tweets were falsely attributed to the man and that none of the other members of the group posted them, either. 

For several days after, the man reportedly received numerous death threats on Twitter as well as other tweets containing racist epithets. 

The lawsuit also cites an investigation by the St. Paul Department of Human Rights that found a “preponderance of evidence” suggesting Chipotle discriminated against the group of men.   

In its response to the lawsuit, Chipotle denied the majority of allegations, including the suggestion that the restaurant chain hacked into a member of the group’s Twitter account and posted the tweets about dining and dashing, calling it “patently ridiculous.”