* Eatery allegedly rejected Mexican passport to verify age
* Plaintiff, then 37, says was not allowed to buy beer
* Chipotle has fired roughly 500 undocumented workers
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, May 10 Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc
(CMG.N), which has fired roughly 500 undocumented workers as a
result of immigration audits, was sued by a customer who
alleged one of its restaurants rejected his Mexican passport as
proof of age when he tried to buy beer.
According to a lawsuit filed on Monday in a Hennepin
County, Minnesota, state court, Laurencio Valadez Estrada tried
to buy a bottle of beer at a Chipotle restaurant in Eden
Prairie, Minnesota, on July 31, 2009, when he was 37.
Valadez, a Mexican national, said the store manager
rejected his Mexican passport as proof of his identity and age,
saying several times that only a U.S. passport would be
acceptable, the complaint said.
"My client felt particularly humiliated, being a Mexican at
a self-advertised Mexican grill who was denied service," Bruce
Nestor, a lawyer for Valadez, now 39, said in an interview.
Chipotle did not immediately respond to requests for a
The lawsuit accuses Chipotle of discrimination based on
national origin and race, and violating a Minnesota law
allowing a foreign national's passport as proof of age to buy
an alcoholic beverage.
It seeks unspecified damages plus an order that could
require Chipotle to improve training. Nestor said he is unaware
of similar cases against the Denver-based burrito chain.
Chipotle has fired roughly 500 workers as a result of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits of its hiring
paperwork in Minnesota, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Co-Chief Executive Monty Moran said on April 20 the U.S.
Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. had opened a criminal
investigation and asked for documents related to the audits.
The case is Valadez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc,
Minnesota District Court, County of Hennepin, No.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by Andre Grenon)