Video surveillance has done many wonderful things for the security and law enforcement industries. More than a few movies and TV shows include a dramatic reveal in which they show the suspect the video footage that caught them in the act. But Jeanette Ortiz claims never got that dramatic reveal.
Ortiz worked as a manager for Chipotle in their Fresno, California location up until 2015 when she was fired for allegedly stealing $626 in cash from the restaurant’s safe. Ortiz was told that surveillance cameras had caught her in the act, but she was never shown the video footage. Instead, she was told the evidence had been destroyed, but Ortiz wasn’t willing to leave it at that. She sued Chipotle for wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination is a very difficult case to win since most states (including California) are at-will employment states, meaning employers don’t need a reason to fire their workers, as long as they don’t have a written agreement with their employees that explicitly states they can only be fired for specific reasons. And in fact, Chipotle may have been able to get away with it if they had simply fired Ortiz without an explanation, but the elaborate alleged plot designed to defame her made her suspicious.
Not only is the alleged plot itself suspicious (since Ortiz maintains she never stole anything from her employer), but the timing is also enough to set off alarm bells, both to Ortiz and the jury that heard her case. Prior to the accusation of theft, Ortiz had put in a claim for worker’s compensation for a wrist injury she had suffered as a result of carpal tunnel, which she claimed was a result of fulfilling her duties at Chipotle. Continue reading