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Johnson v. Aramark

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

March 23, 2018

Ricky A. Johnson, Plaintiff,
v.
Aramark, Defendant.

          OPINION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Lynn N. Hughes United States District Judge

         1. Background.

         Ricky A. Johnson is black. He began working as a grill cook for Aramark Corporation on December 4, 2013, at the University of Houston - Clear Lake in Houston. Johnson's responsibilities included preparing the grill station, cooking the food, and cleaning everything after the shift.

         On March 1, 2016, Johnson submitted a written complaint to human resources about how Aramark gave his Hispanic co-worker a raise of ten-cents per hour; Aramark did not raise Johnson's pay.

         William Leyendecker was the food service director and manager. Leyendecker and Johnson got into an argument on March 16th. Leyendecker told Johnson to do something and he became confrontational. In his tantrum, Johnson told Leyendecker that he was unfairly treated because Agapita Ortiz got a raise and he did not.

         During the altercation, Leyendecker asked Johnson if he wanted to go home. Johnson said yes and left before his shift ended. Johnson returned the next day and resumed his responsibilities.

         Aramark sent Johnson a coaching notice on April 12th about the exchange between Leyendecker and him. Johnson then filed his first charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 28th. Johnson claimed racial discrimination and retaliation. The Commission dismissed his complaint.

         A. Summer Schedule.

         Most Aramark employees in the education division are on leave between mid-May through mid'August. The University is open on a limited schedule. In the summer, the dining room closes at 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Fridays at noon. The University is closed on Saturday and Sunday. Employees may ask to work the reduced schedule.

         In early May 2016, Leyendecker scheduled a meeting with the workers to discuss their availability during the summer because summer hours would begin on May 16. At the meeting, Leyendecker asked the workers to write their availability for May through September on the notepad being passed around. Johnson was there, but he did not write anything on the notepad nor did he otherwise give Leyendecker a new written schedule.

         Johnson last wrote his availability in fall 2015. In that update, Johnson's availability was from Monday through Friday after noon. Aramark relied on his fall 2015 availability to schedule the summer. Because Johnson's availability on file conflicted with the summer schedule, Aramark did not assign him.

         B. Confusion.

         Johnson's mother died at the beginning of May 2016. Johnson asked for bereavement leave from May 4 through May 17, and Aramark approved it. Johnson returned to work on May 18th, two days after the summer schedule began. Although Aramark had not scheduled Johnson to work, he helped Aramark with catering for three hours.

         Shortly after he finished that day, Johnson asked Leyendecker why he was not on the summer schedule. Leyendecker explained that (a) he never receivedjohnson's availability at the meeting, and (b) his last availability from fall 2015 conflicted with ...


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