Chipotle is having to apologize and rehire a manager of a St. Paul, Minnesota, location after a video taken and shared by customers accusing her of racially profiling them went viral, prompting the company to initially fire her.
Chipotle confirmed to BuzzFeed News that after new evidence and information surfaced about the accusers, the company is now walking back that termination, and has offered the manager her job back.
That's a lot to unpack, we know, so let's start chronologically.
On Friday, a video shared by a Twitter user named @Masudaliii purported to show a manager demand the user and his friends prove they could afford to pay for their Chipotle orders. The person filming the exchange accused the manager of "stereotyping" them for being African American.
"Can a group of young well established African American get a bite to eat after a long workout session," he captioned the video, tagging @ChipotleTweets, the company's Twitter account.
"You got to pay 'cause you never have money when you come in here," the manager was filmed saying.
In subsequent tweets and videos, @Masudaliii claimed the Chipotle manager treated a white customer differently and offered her a free meal. The user then continued to tweet at the company, demanding the situation be rectified, and encouraged vigilantes to contact the chain to complain.
The video and Twitter thread quickly went viral. It's now been retweeted over 33,000 times and liked over 80,000 times.
Over the next few days, people online expressed their disgust with the accusations and what was allegedly shown in the videos. People threatened to boycott Chipotle over the fact that they believed the company's "employees are racist."
The videos and accusations drew a firestorm of blacklash against Chipotle, and the outrage was retweeted by the accuser and original Twitter poster.
There was enough anger that the company headquarters issued an official statement on the incident on Friday and announced that they were firing the manager in the video.
In the first statement released on Friday, Laurie Schalow, the company's chief communications officer, said "this is not how we treat our customers" and that as a result, "the manager has been terminated and the restaurant is being retrained to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again."
But then, over the weekend, things started to shift and the narrative began to change.
On Saturday, Twitter users found and screenshotted tweets supposedly on @Masudaliii's account allegedly bragging about "dine and dash" stunts he and his friends have pulled, and coordinating plans to "eat as much" at local restaurants and "walk the fuck out."
The tweets appear to have been deleted since, and the account has since gone quiet. (@Masudaliii did not respond to a request for comment.)
People then studied the original video more closely and noted that the fired manager was implying she had seen the OP and the guys in the video previously, and that they "never have money" when they come in.
"Imagine pulling the race card, putting it on twitter, everyone sympathizing, then being found out as a fraud," one user wrote.
People were thrown for a loop and demanded Chipotle rectify its swift decision to fire the employee.
On Sunday, the company issued another official statement on the matter, saying its "actions were based on the facts known to [the company] immediately after the incident."
"We now have additional information which needs to be investigated further," Schalow said. "We want to do the right thing, so after further investigation we will re-train and re-hire if the facts warrant it."
By Monday, the company had apparently collected enough new "evidence" that it decided to reverse the entire decision to fire the manager, and rehire her. The company is also issuing an official public apology to the manager of the St. Paul Chipotle. (The company could not provide BuzzFeed News the identity of ex-employee-turned-current-employee-again.)
"We have spent the last few days reviewing the evidence available to us regarding the incident ... Based on our review, we have offered our manager her job back," Schalow said in the latest statement provided to BuzzFeed News.
"While our normal protocol was not followed serving these customers, we publicly apologize to our manager for being put in this position. We will work to continue to ensure that we support a respectful workplace for our employees and our customers alike."
"We are committed to doing the right thing and acting in a manner consistent with a thoughtful, fact-driven approach," she added.
People are now accusing @Masudaliii of "pulling the race card" and having his plan foiled.
"Congratulations, you played urself," one person tweeted at him.
Others are taking the incident a lot more seriously.
"This type of bullshit sets back all those who are TRULY dealing with racism and bigotry! We have ALL seen people pull the race card unnecessarily- it’s such a disservice to those who TRULY experience it," someone wrote.