Chipotle is reconsidering firing one of its managers after a group of Black customers complained that she refused to take their order unless they paid first.
In a series of viral video clips, a customer in St. Paul, Minnesota, identified as 21-year-old Masud Ali, complained that a Chipotle manager told him and several of his friends that they could not order food without paying first.
Ali said the manager told him: "You gotta pay, because you’ve never had money when you come in here." An employee adds, "We're not gonna make food unless you guys actually have money."
Ali told Minnesota's Star Tribune newspaper that the statements were racist.
"It sounded really racist -- the way she said it was racist," he said on Friday. "She asked for proof of income as if I'm getting a loan."
On Twitter, Ali asked Chipotle: "Can a group of young well-established African-American get a bite to eat after a long workout session?"
Following the uproar on social media, the restaurant chain announced the store manager was no longer employed by Chipotle on Saturday.
But on Sunday, the company backtracked and said it was reconsidering its action after receiving new information about Ali and his friends.
Multiple Twitter.com users retweeted old tweets that showed Ali promoting "dine and dash" at other Chipotle locations, according to Fox News.
In one tweet from 2016, Ali wrote: "aye man i think chopotle catchin up to us fam. should we change locations and yoooooo what should we do about the other thang."
In other tweets, he wrote: "Dine and dash is forever interesting", and "Guys we’re borrowing food... that's it. And if the lady tries to stop you at the door don't hesitate to truck the sh-- out of that bi---."
In response to a Twitter user who complained about the illegal practice, Ali tweeted: "not a dine and dash we're just borrowing the food for a couple of hours that's all."
Ali has since deleted all tweets referencing dining and dashing.
Chipotle Chief Communications Officer Laurie Schalow told Fox News on Sunday. "We now have additional information which needs to be investigated further. We want to do the right thing, so after further investigation we will re-train and re-hire if the facts warrant it."
The fired manager, who is white, said she recognized Ali as a customer who ran from her store without paying on Tuesday. But Ali denied being in the store on Tuesday.
"We are not able to confirm that with 100 percent certainty," Schalow acknowledged in a statement to The Twin Cities Pioneer Press. "We asked Masud if he was in our restaurant on Tuesday and he said no."
Schalow had previously claimed that the store's manager was justifiably terminated because she broke protocol by requiring payment before making the customers' food, regardless of her suspicions about the customers' intention to pay.
"The correct action to take would have been to make their food and not hand it over to them until they paid for it," Schalow had said as justification for terminating the manager.
Schalow and Chipotle have a financial incentive for re-hiring the manager.
According to Fox News, earlier this year, a fired Chipotle manager who was accused of stealing $626 won nearly $8 million from the company in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
— Masud Ali ? (@Masudaliii) November 16, 2018
Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images