Friday, April 6, 2018

Chipotle Mexican Grill: Norovirus outbreak in Virginia (2017)

Chipotle Mexican Grill: Norovirus outbreak in Virginia (2017)

First Chipotle opened
Chipotle Mexican Grill opened their first restaurant in 1993. Their goal was to show that food served fast didn’t have to be a “fast-food” experience. By combing classic cooking techniques with high quality raw ingredients, and extraordinary interior design, chipotle was able to bring together fine dining with quick service restaurants. The founder of Chipotle is Steve Ells, he opened up the first Chipotle near the University of Denver by using a loan of 85,000 from his father.  Steve and his father figured that in order to be profitable the restaurant must sell at least 107 burritos a day. Originally Ells planned on using funds from chipotle to open up a fine dining restaurant. After the first month Chipotle was selling more than 1,000 burritos a day. With success coming from Chipotle Ells no longer had the plan of opening up a new restaurant.  Chipotle currently has 2,408 restaurants and an average restaurant sale of 1.94 million. But Chipotle success hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In 2015 the chain restaurant had become involved in a problem were there was a spread of several different food related diseases that infected hundreds of customers in about a dozen states. The diseases that were being spread included E. coli, salmonella and noroviruses. The spread of these diseases and the constant bad publicity, had drove chipotle customers right out the door. The stock price before the incident was around $750, after this issue it was around $354. Things got so bad that stores were being shut down. Chipotle had recognized their mistakes and revaluated themselves and did what they needed to do in order to resolve this issue. After a while chipotle was able to get back on its feet and slowly making its way back to how things were when they were the top restaurant for Mexican food. Shortly after this incident occurred Chipotle found themselves in a déjà vu as a norovirus had broken out once again in a Virginia Chipotle in early July 2017.  Chipotles stock had dropped almost 6%.  This not being the first time that a norovirus had broken out, Chipotle was determined to find out the cause of this outbreak by conducting an investigation. From the investigation they concluded the company sick policy was the issue. CEO Steve Ells said “our leadership there didn’t strictly adhere to our company’s protocols” (Whitten). Simply Chipotle was not following the company’s safety guidelines. What was happening was Chipotle workers were being required to work when they were sick. In a online post a Chipotle employee shared that her manager made her work even though she told him she was sick. “My boss has told me that I have no option but to come in tomorrow, and it been heavily implied that my job will be jeopardy if I don’t come in” (Whitten). The ethical issue is that Chipotle employees and managers are not following the company safety protocol. Chipotle vows to serve quality and safe food, if an employee is serving food while they are sick or a manager is breaking the company’s health protocol, both are failing to fulfill the duty that they have to the customers.
              The first stakeholders that were affected by this issue were the stockholders who had invested into the company. Chipotles stock had dropped 6% percent because of this incident. The next group of stakeholders affected were the customers. Between 19 and 21 million people per a year are infected with this virus. The Virginia customers who caught the virus are the customers who suffered the worst from this issue. Aside from actually getting the virus, the bad publicity caused a domino effect to the company. Customers eating at a Chipotle in Boston no longer want to eat there because they heard about the issue that occurred in Virginia and this made them fear that they might get sick from the food. The customers trusted that Chipotle would serve safe and healthy food. Chipotle failed to do this which broke the customers trust in the company. The next group of stakeholders affected are the employees. Its clear that the employees caused the issue, but what about the ones that had nothing to do with getting the customers sick. Not only are they blamed by the customers but they get a negative reputation for something they didn’t even do. The managers who forced the sick employees to work and disregarded safety protocol are notable stakeholders in the norovirus outbreak.
Chipotles logo
Milton Friedman’s theory of individualism says that the only goal of business is to maximize profits but must be done within the law. Chipotle got to the point were food and safety wasn’t as big as getting the sales they needed to increase and get back to the way things where before all this happened. When customers started to get sick again there was research done to see what the cause was. It came out that employees were being forced to work when they were sick. Managers said that they had no one to replace them and they needed those employees there in order to make money. Managers also made them fear that they would lose their job if they didn’t come in to work. Chipotle is violating the rights that employees have to sick days. They are also violating the safety rights they have to the customers by serving them food made by someone sick. After this issue Chipotles sales declined 14.6% and net income went down 44%. The best thing for chipotle is to get back to focusing on the health and safety of the customers. They need to focus on making sure that all the food is safe and healthy. This include keeping a close eye on employees for illnesses and making sure the food has a sanitary location to be made and consumed. The public opinion of Chipotle after an incident like this is very harsh and is should be. Chipotle was so concerned about making a profit that they disregarded the rule that allows for employees to stay home when they are sick.  The public could no longer trust Chipotles health and safety of food.
Utilitarianism says that we ought to bring about happiness and pleasure in all beings capable of feeling it. The reason for this theory is that if happiness is the most valuable thing, then there is no difference between my happiness and yours morally speaking. Chipotle is ethically at fault under the utilitarianism theory. Chipotle should have been aiming to maximize long term happiness but they were only focusing on short term happiness. The only benefit from having an employee who is sick come into work is that the employee is working and the business won’t fall behind and Chipotle will be able to maximize their profits. Chipotle wasn’t thinking about all the long term things that could happen from bring a sick employee into work. For starters the consumers eating the food are going to get sick from the illness that the employee has. Chipotle was overlooking the long-term happiness of the customer and instead they were focusing on making Chipotle temporary happy.  Breaking the company’s protocol cost them customers, money, and trust from everyone. The stockholders were also effected long term. Chipotles stocks once again decreased a big amount. This caused investors to lose a lot of money. In long term the best thing for everyone is to let chipotle work out their issues to make sure that employees are following company protocol and that no sick employees are coming into work serving food. It may take a while before consumers start to make there way back to chipotle and investors start to invest into chipotle. But this will only happen if Chipotle is able to following their protocol  and get back to serving safe and healthy food.
Image result for chipotle food
A meal at Chipotle
Kantianism basic principles are act rationally, allow and help people make rational decisions, respect others, do what is right because it is right. Chipotle was violating the principles. The first way they violated Kantianism is they did not allow or help people make rational decisions. When an employee was trying to call in sick the manager would not let him and threated the employee if he didn’t come in.  When the employee came into work it leads to him getting other people sick. Consumers did not have the rational information about the employee being sick to decide if they were going to eat at that restaurant. Another way that chipotle violates this ethical theory is the managers at the Virginia chipotle were not acting rationally. Out of all the stores at the time why were they only ones getting people sick. After the incident a few years back, you would think that all Chipotles are following all protocol. But the manager in Virginia wasn’t acting rationally, by making sick employees come in and work, which is why they weren’t following Kantianism theory. Under the formula of humanity, the managers of chipotle in Virginia did not act rationally. They were forcing employees to come into work sick and at the same time they weren’t following the company’s protocol. In order to conform to Kantianism Chipotle must fire the managers in Virginia and make sure that in the future all employees and managers will be following company protocol very closely.
Virtue Theory
In order to be considered ethical under the virtue theory one must act to embody a variety of virtuous or good character and avoid bad character traits. There are four virtues in business which are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Chipotle violates justice by serving food which was not healthy to eat. Chipotle failed to giver quality products to customers who got sick.  They also violated the honest virtue. Managers weren’t allowing employees sick days which is a bad treatment of employees. Chipotle did have courage because they were taking the risk of combining fine and fast food, as you can see from their success it was good decision. They also showed temperance by starting from nothing and becoming the successful company they are. Chipotle can become virtuous they just need to reevaluate their managers and make sure that in the future the food is safe to eat and that protocol is always being followed.

Work cited
Chan, Melissa. "Chipotle's E. Coli Outbreak Stumped U.S. Health Investigators." Time.Com, 2/1/2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost,
"Chipotle Is Ready to Try to Win Back Its Customers." TheStreet, 13 Jan. 2016. Academic OneFile,
"Chipotle Store Reopens After Norovirus Scare." USA Today, n.d. EBSCOhost,
Feeney, Nolan. "Chipotle Tweaking Food Prep Methods After E. Coli Outbreak." Time.Com, 28 Dec. 2015. EBSCOhost,
Newman, Jesse and Julie Jargon. "CDC Expected to Declare End to Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak, Sources Say." Wall Street Journal (Online), 2/1/2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost,
Rhodan, Maya. "Chipotle Blames Sick Employees for Norovirus Outbreak." Time.Com, 08 Feb. 2016, p. 61. EBSCOhost,
Zlati, Meyer, et al. "Chipotle Upbeat on Earnings despite New Health Scare." USA Today, n.d. EBSCOhost,

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