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Chipotle rehires manager who asked African American men to prepay for burritos


This post has been updated. 

“You got to pay because you never have money when you come in here,” a manager of a Chipotle in St. Paul, Minn., told a group of young African American men in a video one of them posted to Twitter on Friday, and the exchange only got testier from there: “We got no money? That’s racist!” one man says, as the manager explains that they have to prepay for their burritos. “I might just run off with my food today, bro,” another says. “She’s making crazy accusations.”

A white customer got his order, and the group erupted. “Why did he not have to pay before?” a number of the men said.

After the video was posted to Twitter, launching a conversation about implicit bias and the challenges of merely existing in public spaces while being black, the manager was fired. Chipotle announced that it would retrain its employees to prevent further incidents.

But the company now says it has rehired the manager based on “additional information” that has come to light.

“We have spent the last few days reviewing the evidence available to us regarding the incident in St. Paul, MN. Based on our review, we have offered our manager her job back. While our normal protocol was not followed serving these customers, we publicly apologize to our manager for being put in this position,” said Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief communications officer, in an email to The Post. “We will work to continue to ensure that we support a respectful workplace for our employees and our customers alike. Our policy is to treat our customers and employees fairly and with respect at all times and under any circumstances. We will work with all our restaurant teams to ensure they are prepared to handle situations of this kind and know they have our full support. We are committed to doing the right thing and acting in a manner consistent with a thoughtful, fact-driven approach.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Masud Ali, the man who posted the video, had also tweeted multiple times about dining and dashing at Chipotle and other restaurants. Several of those tweets were found by other Twitter users.

A screenshot of a tweet from July 15, 2015, says, “Dine and dash is forever interesting.” A tweet from March 28, 2015, describes a plan to go to an Applebee’s and tip a server 20 cents. Another tweet from the same day says, “Not a dine and dash we’re just borrowing the food for a couple hours that’s all.” In January 2016, he tweeted, “Aye man I think Chipotle catching up to us fam … should we change locations…” A screenshot of a tweet from this July reads, “I caught myself taking the Chipotle Tabasco sauce the other day lol not because I needed it but because it felt so natural to me.”

Ali has not yet responded to a request for comment. A Chipotle representative told the Pioneer Press that the company was aware of the tweets when it decided to fire the manager and that its latest statement was not based on them.

The video followed several incidents this year involving treatment of African Americans at chain restaurants. In February, two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks after they asked to use the restroom while waiting for an associate to arrive. The incident resulted in Starbucks’s closing of 8,000 stores in May for anti-racial-bias training. Various Waffle House locations were the site of four racial incidents — one involving a police officer choking a teen in prom attire — during a 12-day stretch in May. Also in May, a Toronto Chinese restaurant was ordered to pay $10,000 in damages after demanding that a black customer prepay for his meal.

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