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Odeyale v. Aramark Management Services Limited Partnership

October 29, 2007

SHOLA ODEYALE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARAMARK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Shola Odeyale was employed by Aramark Management Services Limited Partnership ("Aramark") as a custodian for one week during which he worked a mere four days. Mr. Odeyale, who is African American, contends that his supervisor called him racially derogatory names and that when he complained, he was terminated. Mr. Odeyale brought this suit alleging, among other claims, hostile work environment, discrimination, and retaliation. Aramark moved for partial summary judgment. The motion for summary judgment will be granted with respect to the hostile work environment claim. Summary judgment will be denied, however, regarding the claims for discrimination and retaliation.

I. FACTS

Mr. Odeyale had been employed by Washington Convention Center Authority ("WCCA") as a housekeeping supervisor for three years when WCCA decided to outsource its housekeeping services. WCCA contracted for such services with Aramark, and Aramark was required to offer displaced employees like Mr. Odeyale a right of first refusal in a comparable position for at least a six-month period during which the employee could not be discharged except for cause. Compl. ¶ 5. Aramark hired Mr. Odeyale as a housekeeping supervisor on October 1, 2004. Mr. Odeyale worked for Aramark a total of four days - October 1, 2, 5, and 6.*fn1 District Manager Phillip Myers was Mr. Odeyale's supervisor. Mr. Myers was in charge of starting up Aramark's contract at the Convention Center, and then General Manager Michael Noble was to take over the day-to-day management of Aramark's services at the Convention Center. Mr. Myers was also Mr. Noble's superior.

Mr. Odeyale alleges, without asserting any details, that Mr. Myers called him names "frequently" on October 2, 5, and 6.*fn2 Pl.'s Ex. 1, Odeyale Dep. at 141. Mr. Myers put Mr. Odeyale to work in a large store room moving 100 pound bags of sand, snow salt, and chemicals from the floor to upper shelves. Mr. Odeyale told Mr. Myers that he did not think moving the items was a good idea, that these heavy items should remain on the floor and lighter items should remain on upper shelves. Pl.'s Ex. 1, Odeyale Dep. at 71-72. Mr. Myers insisted that the items be moved as he had requested. On October 6, Mr. Odeyale began using a forklift to move the heavy items. Mr. Myers became angry and stopped Mr. Odeyale because Mr. Odeyale was not properly certified to operate the forklift. Id . at 121-24. Mr. Odeyale resumed moving the items by hand; he had to use a ladder to move the items to the higher shelves. Mr. Myers allegedly then yelled at Mr. Odeyale, calling him a "nigger" and "chicken," and pulled Mr. Odeyale by the belt of his pants off the ladder.

Id . at 132-34, 144. Mr. Odeyale landed on the floor, hitting his forehead and back. Id . at 136.

Mr. Odeyale reported the incident immediately after it happened to Selita Janey, the security guard who was nearby at the time. Id . at 138-139. Mr. Odeyale alleges that Ms. Janey asked him, "Who is calling you nigger?" Id . at 139. Ms. Janey signed a declaration on October 18, 2004, indicating that she heard Mr. Myers call Mr. Odeyale a "nigger" in a loud voice on one occasion. Pl.'s Ex. 3, Janey Decl. Later at her deposition, Ms. Janey testified that she was not 100% certain of what she heard due to the fact she was 50 feet away and there was an echo. Pl.'s Ex. 4, Janey Dep. at 22-24 & 33; see also id . at 45 (Janey no longer agreed with her declaration).

The next day, October 7, 2004, Mr. Odeyale met with Mr. Noble to complain about Mr. Myers. He told Mr. Noble that Mr. Myers pulled him from the ladder, would not let him take his diabetes medicine, required him to move heavy items without assistance, and called him "nigger" and "chicken." Pl.'s Ex. 1, Odeyale Dep. at 129-30. Mr. Noble responded, "Phil Myers don't like you, he cannot work with you, so you're terminated." Id . at 130.

Accordingly, Mr. Odeyale filed a Complaint*fn3 alleging: Count I, violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act, D.C. Code § 2-1402.11(a)(1), due to race discrimination; Count II, violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act, id . § 2-1402.61, due to retaliation; and Count III, violation of the D.C. Payment and Collection of Wages. Act, id . § 32-1303.*fn4 Aramark filed a motion for summary judgment on Counts I and II.*fn5

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); see also Diamond v. Atwood , 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Moreover, summary judgment is properly granted against a party who "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Citrate , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements. Greene v. Dalton , 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Id. at 675. If the evidence "is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

III. ANALYSIS

The D.C. Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. Code §§ 2-1401.01 - 1403.17, prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based upon the individual's membership in a protected category, including race. D.C. Code § 2-1402.11(a)(1). Count I of Mr. Odeyale's Complaint alleging ...


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