Emily Russell was working at an Ohio Chipotle when an angry customer, Rosemary Hayne, violently threw a hot bowl of food in her face — an attack that was caught on video. Now Hayne, who was found guilty of assault last week, has agreed to work at a fast food restaurant to avoid jail time.
“Do you want to go in [Russell’s] shoes for two months and learn how people should treat people or do you want to go to jail?” Judge Timothy Gilligan asked Hayne at her sentencing.
“I want to walk in her shoes,” Hayne replied.
It is not clear at which restaurant Hayne will work, and her attorney did not immediately return a request for comment. But the verdict comes as violence against fast food and retail workers is on the rise, and a study shows that 6 out of 10 retail workers 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 by accepting the judge’s offer, she will reduce her sentence by 60 days by working 20 hours a week at a fast food place for two months.
In a interview with local Fox station WJW, Gilligan said he was inspired to give Hayne the chance to see the world through his victim’s eyes while reducing the cost to taxpayers of incarcerating Hayne for a longer period of time.
“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 that she was “relieved” by the outcome and that Hayne will learn to see the world through a different perspective — that of a battered worker just trying to make an honest buck.
“I’ve said she’s lucky she works 20 hours a week — I worked 65 hours a week,” Russell, 26, said of her schedule at the Parma, Ohio, Chipotle at the time of the incident.
She also said that while Hayne apologized to her at sentencing, Russell did not believe she was sincere and refused to make eye contact with her attacker. “She said she was having a bad day, but that’s not the way you react when you’re having 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 making $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 police quickly tracked down Hayne because she had ordered online so the restaurant had her contact information.
Chipotle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russell now works at the Raising Cane restaurant as a crew member but hopes to be promoted to manager, she added.
“No one should have to go through a physical attack,” she told CBS MoneyWatch. “I want everyone to know that it’s OK to have a bad day, but not to do something like this.”