NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A Manhattan Chipotle restaurant was forced to close down after four employees said they were bitten by rodents over the span of several days, according to a local union.
The employees allege that the Chipotle at 4009 Broadway in Washington Heights continued to serve customers even with the infestation worsening with time.
One worker, Luis Gustavo Paulino Ruiz said he was bitten by a rat while moving boxes and claims he was not the first one to be bitten.
"It was terrifying. If something happened to me, my pregnant wife in the Dominican Republic would be left with no support,”
“When the first worker at my store was bitten by a rat, Chipotle did nothing. It felt like the company didn’t value us as people, they only cared about their own profits,” Ruiz said Wednesday in a statement released by the 32BJ chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
"We told the manager that the rat problem was getting worse and worse. Workers had to chase the rats and try to kill them. I killed two rats with a stick. I felt uncomfortable every day and my coworkers and I were all scared of getting bitten," he added.
The location has been closed for deep cleaning and pest control, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs and food safety officer Laurie Schalow said.
"The health and safety of our employees and guests is our top priority. The Columbia Presbyterian restaurant in New York City has been mainly closed since Nov. 23 due to a pest problem caused by vacated adjoining restaurants. During this time, we have arranged emergency pest service, deep cleaning of the restaurant and are working with the landlord to ensure improvements are made before reopening,” Schalow said in a statement to PIX11 on Wednesday.
Employees are calling on the fast food chain to prioritize worker safety. with the union alleging that Chipotle was first notified of the rat infestation in October but only closed the location after the general manager was bitten.
According to the union, two other employees had already been bitten at the time it was closed.