A manager at a Chipotle restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota, was fired last week after a video surfaced showed employees refusing to serve five black men unless they could prove they could pay, news reports said. But now, Chipotle may reconsider the termination after social media posts surfaced suggesting that the situation might have been more complex than it originally appeared.
Masud Ali, one of the customers, posted a video on Twitter showing the men trying to place orders and the restaurant employees refusing to serve them. The video, which received more than 5 million views as of Sunday night, showed an employee, who was smiling and speaking in a friendly tone of voice, saying, “You gotta pay because you never have money when you come in here.”
The men were vocal in their objections and asked a white customer if he had paid before ordering. The man did not respond.
Ali told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that he thought racism was the reason for the refusal to serve him and his friends.
“It sounded really racist ― the way she said it was racist,” Ali said Friday. “She asked for proof of income as if I’m getting a loan.”
In a statement, Chipotle said it had done a “thorough investigation” and had talked with employees and police officers who were called to the restaurant.
“Regarding what happened at the St. Paul restaurant, the manager thought these gentlemen were the same customers from Tuesday night who weren’t able to pay for their meal,” the statement said. “Regardless, this is not how we treat our customers and as a result, the manager has been terminated and the restaurant is being retrained to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
After the video went viral, some people took to Twitter to say that Chipotle’s decision to fire the manager was wrong. A number of tweets referred to posts by Ali in which he apparently bragged about “dining and dashing” – ordering food without paying for it:
In light of the additional information, Chipotle said on Sunday that it was reviewing its decision to fire the manager.
“Our actions were based on the facts known to us immediately after the incident, including video footage, social media posts and conversations with the customer, manager and our employees,” Chipotle chief communications officer Laurie Schalow told Fox News on Sunday. “We now have additional information which needs to be investigated further. We want to do the right thing, so after further investigation, we will re-train and re-hire, if the facts warrant it.