Chipotle, under the gun as a result of immigration audits at some of its restaurants, has hired some of the top immigration attorneys in the country to help find its way clear.
A spokesperson told Reuters that hiring undocumented workers was absolutely not part of the company’s strategy in seeking to keep labor costs low.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has hired a team of Washington legal A-listers to shore up its hiring and handle a federal criminal investigation stemming from the discovery of hundreds of illegal workers in its popular burrito restaurants.
The Denver-based chain has been in hot water since audits by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned up large numbers of undocumented workers on payrolls in Minnesota, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Around the start of the year, Chipotle quietly brought in a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of ICE — Julie Myers Wood, the director of the federal agency under President George W. Bush and now an immigration consultant.
There is a lot at stake for Chipotle, both on Wall Street, where it’s an investor favorite, and on Main Street, where the gourmet burrito concept has won legions of fans. The company has more than 26,500 employees and roughly 1,100 restaurants and is on the brink of opening a new Asian street food chain.