CLIENT ALERT: Please read this special message.

Chipotle Co-CEO Ordered to Testify in OT Suit

Law360—Benjamin Horney

A New York federal judge has rejected Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s pleas to reconsider a decision ordering the deposition of the chain's co-CEO in an overtime wage suit, saying Montgomery F. Moran's unique perspective on the situation could reveal useful information.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn issued her ruling on Friday. In her order, Judge Netburn acknowledged Chiptole's concerns that Moran's testimony could wind up being repetitive and therefore ultimately useless, but said that even if it is not likely new information is provided, the possibility that it could be is enough to warrant the deposition's necessity.

"Having reviewed the documents submitted in camera by the plaintiffs, and based on the breadth of knowledge and experience that Mr. Moran has had with Chipotle over the last 16 years, the court concluded that Mr. Moran's experience is unique, and he likely has relevant personal knowledge of the overtime classification decisions for apprentices," the order said.

The order means that Moran must endure a four-hour deposition, a decision Judge Netburn first made late last month. But Chipotle on March 6 filed a motion for reconsideration, which was officially rejected by Judge Netburn on Friday.

"The court's decision merely reflects a balancing of factors, including whether the deposition of a high-level executive will advance the search for truth," the judge wrote. "The plaintiffs have the right to develop the record by seeking Mr. Moran's knowledge through oral deposition."

                                           *            *            *

The case, initially launched in November 2012, accuses the burrito maker of illegally denying apprentices overtime and classifying them as managerial workers even though they spent most of their time on tasks like filling orders and operating cash registers.

Chipotle has argued that its employees meet the legal standards of being part of management and enjoy the salaries and benefits that come with such positions.

                                           *            *            *

The plaintiffs are represented by Gregg Shavitz and Keith Stern of the Shavitz Law Group PA, Joseph Fitapelli, Brian Schaffer and Frank Mazzaferro of Fitapelli & Schaffer LLP, and Justin Swartz, Ossai Miazad and Melissa L. Stewart of Outten & Golden LLP.

                                           *            *            *

The case is Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., case number 1:12-cv-08333, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.