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Satterfield v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 6, 2017




         Brittany Satterfield filed this lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (Chipotle), alleging that Chipotle retaliated and discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). Chipotle has moved for summary judgment.


         The Court takes the following facts from the parties' briefs and exhibits filed in connection with the motion for summary judgment. When facts are in dispute, the Court takes those facts in the light most favorable to Satterfield, the non-moving party.

         Satterfield worked for Chipotle's Oak Brook East restaurant from September 2013 until she was terminated on October 7, 2014. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts (SOMF), Ex. 1 (Satterfield Dep.) at 57:11, 253:15-18. Satterfield was one of the Oak Brook East restaurant's first hires. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 9 (Jaimes Dep.) at 34:20-35:6. While working for Chipotle, Satterfield reported to Alexis Infante, the restaurant's general manager. Infante, in turn, reported to Viviana Rendon, the restaurateur who was responsible for the restaurant's field operations. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 24 (Jaimes Decl.) ¶ 15. Infante also reported to Lorena Jaimes who, as team leader, was tasked with overseeing the operations of several Chipotle restaurants in the region including the Oak Brook East restaurant. Id. ¶¶ 5, 16.

         Chipotle's Oak Brook East restaurant operated in the same fashion as other Chipotle restaurants. The restaurant is operated by a team of crew members who are responsible for preparing and cooking ingredients, assembling customer food orders, and performing similar tasks. Id. ¶ 7. The crew members are assisted by four levels of management (listed in ascending order of responsibility): kitchen manager, service manager, apprentice manager, and general manager. Id. ¶ 8. The kitchen manager is responsible for the back of the house, which includes inventory and preparation. Jaimes Decl., Ex. C.

         In order for an employee to become a kitchen manager in training (KMIT) in Chipotle's Oak Brook East restaurant, the employee must be nominated by her fellow crew members. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 16 (Zavala Dep.) at 45:1-24; Satterfield Dep. at 154:21-156:16. Once chosen, the nominated employee undergoes six to eight weeks of KMIT training. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 15 (Thomas Dep.) at 32:11-14; Satterfield Dep. at 269:2-4. While in KMIT training, the nominated employee understands that she is not guaranteed the kitchen manager position until she is officially selected by her peers. Satterfield Dep. at 156:4-16. At some point during the training, the crew members will decide whether the nominated employee should be selected for the kitchen manager position. Zavala Dep. at 43:17-21. The selected employee is then given a confirmation start date that is approved by the general manager and the team leader. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 11 (Benitez Dep.) at 40:22-24.

         Satterfield quickly became one of the most experienced employees at the Oak Brook East restaurant. Initially, she worked on prep and grill at Chipotle. Within a few months, she had learned to work all stations in the restaurant. Satterfield Dep. at 57:2-9. In May 2014, Satterfield received a positive rating on her first evaluation and was given a raise. Id. at 58:7-25. And, at three different points in time, she was chosen by her co-workers as a KMIT candidate.

         Satterfield went through KMIT training three times but was never offered the position of kitchen manager. First, she was put up for the kitchen manager position along with another employee, Arielle Thomas, sometime in December 2013. Thomas Dep. at 21:21-25, 23:11-13. Satterfield went through four weeks of training, but the crew members selected Thomas to become kitchen manager. Id. Infante then asked Satterfield to stop her training. Id. Thomas testified that after she was promoted, management told Satterfield that "you're going to get promoted, just, you know, wait for your time, keep training . . . ." Id. at 19:21-22. Second, Satterfield and her co-worker Christopher Hinsley went through KMIT training sometime around early 2014. Satterfield Dep. at 98:12-100:10. When it came time to choose which of the two employees should receive the kitchen manager position, the crew selected Satterfield. Thomas Dep. at 29:19-31:2. Infante, however, chose to give Hinsley the position instead. Id. Third, sometime at the end of July or early August, Infante tasked Hinsley with training Satterfield and her co-worker Timothy Valdez to become kitchen managers. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 14 (Hinsley Dep.) at 50:14-22, 51:13-21. After four weeks of training, Satterfield was removed from KMIT training. Satterfield testified that Infante "told [her] that he took [her] out of the program because he didn't want to stress [her] out" during her pregnancy. Satterfield Dep. at 168:12-14, 275:17-24.

         Shortly after being removed from the KMIT training, Satterfield called Chipotle's "respectful workplace" hotline. Id. at 122:11-19. Satterfield testified that she called the hotline in August 2014, September 2014, and October 2014. Id. at 149:16-150:14. Chipotle's respectful workplace consultant, Kimberly Wheeler, answered Satterfield's calls. Def's SOMF, Ex. 20 (Wheeler Dep.) at 19:4-7. Satterfield testified that in August 2014, she explained to Wheeler that she believed she was taken out of KMIT training because of her pregnancy and that she wanted to be transferred to another Chipotle restaurant because she felt uncomfortable around her co-workers. Satterfield Dep. at 149:16-150:14. Satterfield also testified that in September 2014, she called the hotline again to check on the status of her transfer because she "felt like things weren't changing." Id. at 151:7-8. Wheeler told Satterfield that she had informed Infante of Satterfield's complaint. Satterfield testified that once Infante became aware of her complaint, he began to treat her unfairly. Id. at 122:7-125:25. Satterfield also testified that her assistant manager, Fernando Benitez, complained to others that she "talk[ed] too much, " referring to her hotline complaints. Id. at 129:4-24; Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 21 (Oct. Hotline Compl.).

         Thomas testified that sometime in October 2014, she informed a crew member that she believed management was going to fire Satterfield. Thomas Dep. at 39:8-15. The crew member then relayed the information to Satterfield, which prompted Satterfield to call and write an e-mail to the respectful workplace hotline on October 3, 2014. Id. In the e-mail, Satterfield complained that she was the target of discrimination and that Chipotle management was retaliating against her for making complaints to the workplace hotline. Oct. Hotline Compl. On October 7, 2014, four days later, Satterfield was fired from her position at Chipotle. Def.'s SOMF, Ex. 13 (Infante Dep.) at 184:14-17.

         Satterfield filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge in April 2015, alleging discrimination and retaliation based on sex and disability. Pl.'s Corrected Statement of Material Facts (SOMF), Ex. S. Satterfield filed this lawsuit on November 13, 2015, alleging that Chipotle violated Title VII and the PDA.


         Summary judgment is appropriate "if the moving party shows that no genuine dispute of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Roberts v. Columbia Coll. Chicago, 821 F.3d 855, 861 (7th Cir. 2016). In making this determination, the Court views the record "in the light most favorable to . . . the non-moving party, resolve[s] all evidentiary conflicts in [the non-moving party's] favor, and grant[s] all reasonable inferences that the record permits" for the non-moving party. Liu v. Cook Cty., 817 F.3d 307, 309 (7th Cir. 2016).

         Satterfield contends that Chipotle retaliated and discriminated against her in violation of Title VII and the PDA. In count 3 of her complaint, she alleges that Chipotle terminated her employment because she complained of pregnancy discrimination to Chipotle's workplace hotline. In counts 1 and 2, Satterfield alleges that she was removed from KMIT training because of her pregnancy. She also alleges in counts 1 and 2 that she was put on a reduced hour schedule after she became pregnant. Finally, Satterfield contends that Chipotle destroyed evidence relevant to this case-her performance journals-in bad faith. This is not a separate claim in her complaint; rather, ...

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