Emily Russell was working at an Ohio Chipotle when an angry customer, Rosemary Hayne, violently hurled a hot bowl of food in her face — an attack that was caught on video. Now, Hayne, who was found guilty last week of assault, has agreed to work in a fast-food restaurant to avoid jail time.
“Do you want to walk in [Russell’s] shoes for two months and learn how people should treat people, or do you want to do your jail time?” Judge Timothy Gilligan asked Hayne at her sentencing.
“I’d like to walk in her shoes,” Hayne responded.
It’s not clear at which restaurant Hayne will work, and her attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment. But the sentence comes as violence against fast-food and retail workers is on the rise, with one survey finding that 6 in 10 retail employees had witnessed a violent incident at their workplace in the last year.
Hayne was originally sentenced to 180 days behind bars, with 90 days suspended. But in accepting the judge’s offer, she will reduce her sentence by 60 days by working 20 hours per week at a fast-food location for two months.
In an interview with local Fox station WJW, Gilligan said he was inspired to give Hayne the chance to see the world through her victim’s eyes, while also reducing the costs to taxpayers from incarcerating Hayne for a longer period.
“I thought, ‘Why should the city taxpayers pay for her and feed her for 90 days in jail if I can teach her a sense of empathy?'” Gilligan told the station.
Russell: “I was in shock”
Russell told CBS MoneyWatch she was “relieved” at the outcome and that Hayne will learn to see the world through a different perspective — that of a harried worker simply trying to make an honest buck.
“I’ve been saying she’s lucky she’s working 20 hours week — I was working 65 hours a week,” said Russell, 26, of her schedule at the Parma, Ohio, Chipotle at the time of the incident.
She also said that while Hayne apologized to her at the sentencing, Russell didn’t believe she was sincere and refused to make eye contact with her attacker. “She said she had a bad day, but that’s not the way you react when you have a bad day — to throw food in someone’s face,” Russell said.
Russell, who had worked at Chipotle for more than four years and was earning $19.25 an hour when Hayne assaulted her, said she quit a month later because she felt unsupported by the restaurant chain, which she said never reached out to her after the incident. She also said she had to work an additional four hours after Hayne threw the burrito bowl in her face.
“I was in shock — my customers had seen me get food thrown in my face,” she noted. She added that the police quickly tracked Hayne down because she had ordered online, so the restaurant had her contact information.
Chipotle didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
Russell now works at at Raising Cane restaurant as a crew member, but is hoping to get promoted to manager she added.
“No one should have to go through any physical attack,” she told CBS MoneyWatch. “I want everyone to know it’s OK to have a bad day, but not to do anything like this.”