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Former Employee Sues Chain Cha Cha Cha Over Gender Discrimination

The lawsuit alleges pay inequity, discrimination against pregnant women, and ‘men-only’ meetings took place

Potato taquitos from Cha Cha Cha
Lauren K./Yelp

A woman sued Mexican chain Cha Cha Cha for gender discrimination and a number of other claims, Willamette Week reports. According to the lawsuit, former Human Resources employee Mayra Ramirez was paid less than her male counterparts, regularly endured fat-shaming and racist insults, endured physically unhealthy workplace conditions, and was later fired after taking medical leave.

The lawsuit also claims that coworker Julian Garcia and employers Ricardo Lopez and Francisco Javier Diaz Hurtado regularly ignored sexual harassment complaints against their restaurant managers. Although Ramirez doesn’t legally claim sexual harassment herself, she does claim that management held “men only” meetings, talked about sexual escapades and trips to the strip club in the office, and demanded she not hire pregnant women or “women who were in a situation where they may become pregnant.”

Ramirez also claims that she was paid much less than male counterparts who held fewer responsibilities than her at the company. She was allegedly offered $14 per hour as her starting salary, but was only paid $12 per hour for the first year in her new position. After getting a raise a year later, she claims she was still the lowest-paid person among the office staff. She was then asked to train Garcia while making less than him. According to the lawsuit, Ramirez also says that she was never paid for up to 26 hours per week of overtime she worked between December 2016 and July 2017

Beyond the claims of an emotionally hostile and financially discriminatory work environment, Ramirez alleges her physical surroundings were challenging. During the extremely hot summer of 2017, she alleges that she was required to work in an unventilated room under the kitchen; she says that her complaints about the heat were ignored.

Ramirez also claims that after experiencing growing pain in her hand using an old keyboard, she asked for a new keyboard and her request was denied. When she was then diagnosed with carpal tunnel because of her keyboard, management allegedly denied her request for worker’s comp. She claims that after experiencing multiple retaliatory pay cuts because of medical leave, she was later fired after going on leave to treat vertigo. She says that there was no indication that the quality of her work had changed.

Ramirez is suing for $804,943, according to the alt-weekly, including $99,920 in back wages. Cha Cha Cha has yet to respond to Eater Portland’s request for comment. It’s worth noting that a different employee sued Cha Cha Cha in 2015 for a different wage claim, but that it was settled privately. Stay tuned for updates.

Cha Cha Cha [Official]
A Portland Woman Sues Cha Cha Cha Taqueria For Gender Discrimination, Alleging Years of Sexualized Taunts [Willamette Week]
Escaping the Restaurant Industry’s Motherhood Trap [Eater]
All previous Cha Cha Cha coverage [EPDX]

Cha! Cha! Cha!

3433 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, , OR 97214 (503) 236-1100 Visit Website

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