Masud Ali was the star of a viral video when he was refused service in a St. Paul Chipotle. The video resulted in the manager, Dominique, being fired but reports suggest the fast food giant may be rethinking their actions following revelations that Ali may have tweeted in the past about “dining and dashing.” Ali, 21, uploaded the clips on November 16. The incident occurred on November 15. The videos show Ali with a group of friends being refused service by a manager after she accused them of having no money. The manager can be heard saying, “You gotta pay, because you’ve never had any money when you come in here. We’re not gonna make food unless you guys actually have money.”
As the video spread online, the manager of the Chipotle, which is located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, was fired. The police were called to the restaurant with Chipotle saying in a statement they were working with officers in order to conduct a “thorough investigation.” The original video post from Ali has been retweeted more than 20,000 times at the time of writing.
By November 18, multiple outlets were reporting that Chipotle was thinking of rehiring the manager.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A GoFundMe Page & Change.org Petition Has Been Set Up to Help Dominique, the Chipotle Manager in the Video
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Dominique, the Chipotle manager, financially after she was fired. In addition, a Change.org petition has also been set up as a means to convince Chipotle to rehire Dom. In her Twitter bio, Dominique refers to herself as “That Chipotle Employee.”
The intro to the GoFundMe page reads, “Myself and any of Dom’s friends and loved ones know that she loved her job, loves people and did not deserve the unfortunate chain of events that occurred this week.” One of Dominique’s supporters, conservative author Matt Palumbo, tweeted late on November 18 that Dominique has “got her job back.” Palumbo had earlier called Chipotle’s assertion that they did not know about Ali’s earlier tweets about “dining and dashing” an “absolute lie,” tweeting at the company, “This is an absolute lie. I emailed your media relations dept. and she claims you were aware of the tweets (where the dude admitted to dine and dashing) at the time of the firing.”
2. Ali Said the Manager ‘Asked for Proof of Income as if I’m Getting a Loan’
Ali told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the manager’s request for he and his friends to show proof they could pay “sounded really racist – the way she said it was racist. She asked for proof of income as if I’m getting a loan.” Ali added, “I’m disappointed in that whole crew for not stepping up and instead accusing us of something we haven’t done.” On his Twitter page, Ali tweeted at Chipotle’s official account saying, “Can a group of young well-established African-Americans get a bite to eat after a long workout session?”
3. Chipotle Said that the Manager Confused Ali & His Friends With Another Group
A statement from Chipotle, via the Star-Tribune, says that the manager in question thought that Ali and his friends were a group of people who had previously been unable to pay for the meal. The statement said, “Regardless, this is not how we treat our customers and as a result, the manager has been terminated and the restaurant [staff] has been retrained to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.” The company added, “We don’t ask customers to pay for their meals prior to making them in our restaurants. The manager should have made their food and withheld giving it to them until they paid for it.”
Speaking to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Laurie Schalow, the chief communications officer with Chipotle said that the company was not able to confirm if Ali had been in the restaurant previously and not paid. Dominique said that the group had been in the restaurant on the preceding Tuesday and not paid, Ali told the Pioneer Press that he was not in the Chipotle on that day.
4. Conservative News Outlets Are Reporting that Ali Documented ‘Dining & Dashing’ on His Twitter Page; Those Tweets are At Least 2 Years Old
On November 19, both the Daily Caller and Fox News, had lengthy features Ali allegedly documenting a history of “dining and dashing” on his Twitter page. Both websites say that Ali has deleted the tweets. The basis for these stories are tweets from 2015 and 2016, some of which reference Chipotle as well as Applebees. One message that has circulated widely comes from July 2015, it reads, “Dine and Dash is forever interesting.” While another message from January 2016, close to three years before the November 15 incident, read, “aye man I think chipotle catchin up to us fam. should we change locations and yoooo what should we do.”
Speaking to Fox News, Chipotle Chief Communications Officer Laurie Schalow, said, “Our actions were based on the facts known to us immediately after the incident, including video footage, social media posts and conversations with the customer, manager, and our employees. 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.”
5. A Good Morning America Producer Who Wanted to Run Ali’s Video Was Bombarded With Messages on Twitter
Good Morning America producer Lauren Dozier was bombarded with messages from Ali’s critics after she asked for permission to use the video on the ABC show. One commenter wrote that Dozier should “Do [her] research” before running the clip. Another person wrote, “Yes chipotle and the need media took his world without investigating. Oops egg on their faces!” While another said, “Lauren I hope you use this video to also talk about how this boys and all they others have been caught for dine and dashing and got a woman fired instead of giving these guys a sob story.”
In April 2018, two African-American men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were asked to leave a Starbucks in Philadelphia after a manager accused them of not being paying customers. In an open letter to customers, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz called the incident “reprehensible.” The incident saw the police called but no charges were pressed. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued an apology and said that in May 2018, 8,000 Starbucks stores closed so that employees could undergo racial bias training.