Ex-Chipotle manager, accused of swiping $626, awarded $8 million

A California jury has awarded nearly $8 million dollars to the former manager of a Chipotle Mexican Grill for wrongful termination.

Jeanette Ortiz was accused in 2015 of stealing $626 in cash from a safe at the restaurant in Fresno. Her bosses claimed the theft was recorded on surveillance video, but when Ortiz asked to see the evidence she was told it had been destroyed.

Ortiz fired a wrongful termination suit. The Fresno Bee reports that last week jurors ordered Chipotle to pay her $7.97 million in damages, finding that upper management had fired her maliciously. Ortiz was "well-liked," but the company claimed she had violated their trust by allegedly stealing the money, according to an attorney who defended Chipotle. 

Her attorney said the allegations didn't add up, given she had received excellent performance reviews and earned a salary of $70,000. He added that the company had talked about promoting her to a role that would have paid $100,000 annually.

The panel ruled Ortiz was a victim of a scheme to defame her for filing a worker's compensation claim for a job-related injury to her wrist.

The award includes $6 million for emotional distress and $1.97 million for the loss of past and future wages.

A Chipotle spokeswoman on Sunday declined to comment on the jury's decision.