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Work Eligibility at Issue in Chipotle Investigation

Getting clearance to work legally in the U.S. can be a tricky business for many immigrants. A current investigation into the employment practices at Chipotle Mexican Grill is a case in point.

Over the last decade, Chipotle has grown to become one of the most popular fast food restaurants in Minnesota and nationwide. But the company is currently in the middle of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation due to questions concerning worker immigration status. The investigation involves allegations that Chipotle hired undocumented immigrants or failed to verify the immigration status of workers in some of its restaurants.

The SEC recently subpoenaed the company as part of a larger investigation in several areas across the country. Minnesota was one of those areas.

The investigation follows audits by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department concerning undocumented workers. ICE’s investigation began in 2010 and resulted in 450 workers losing their jobs in Minnesota alone.

The SEC has now joined the investigation. Chipotle’s main attorney stated that the company has complied with all requests concerning legal obligations for hiring practices. The company has cooperated fully with the SEC, filling all requests for information and agreeing to implement the E-Verify Program operated by the Department of Homeland Security.

E-Verify involves preparing a form to certify that employees are eligible to work in the United States.

Unfortunately, the current investigation may also result in lost jobs. However, unlike many other chain restaurants, Chipotle does not work with franchisees. As a result, the company manages its own hiring practices and can more easily implement changes to hiring practices in its more than 1,000 restaurants across the country.

Source: Pioneer Press, “SEC probing Chipotle immigration issues,” Annie Gasparro, May 21,

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