Sodexo Pays $20,000 to Fired Worker, Alerts Cafeteria Workers They Will Not Interfere With Rights

Aug 12, 2011, 14:32 ET from Service Employees International Union

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board announced today that Sodexo has agreed to settle claims that the company spied on, threatened, and retaliated against cafeteria workers at two New Orleans universities for their union activity – including firing Terry Shelly, a pro-union worker at Loyola University.

Rather than face trial, Sodexo has agreed to settle the charges by compensating and offering to rehire the fired worker and by posting notices informing workers that it will not interfere with or discriminate against them for supporting a union. Under the settlement agreement, Sodexo must "make Terry Shelly whole for any earnings and benefits she lost because we fired her." That compensation totals $20,000.

The Loyola notice says Sodexo will not "fire you for your activities and support of [SEIU]" or "interfere with, restrain, or otherwise discriminate against you" for union activity. The Tulane notice says that Sodexo will not "have union organizers removed from campus to prevent you from talking to them," "threaten to fire you because you supported the [SEIU] or any other labor organization," or "make it appear to you that we are watching your union activities."

This is not the first time the NLRB has had to intervene in unlawful anti-union conduct at Tulane. Recently, Tulane signed a settlement with the Labor Board agreeing to post a notice addressing speech and access issues that included, "We will not post police officers outside our buildings to visually monitor or video record employees," engaged in union activity, and, "We will not remove union representatives from our campus."

While a major victory for Terry Shelly and the Sodexo workers at Tulane and Loyola, this settlement is merely a slap on the wrist for Sodexo. Sodexo markets itself as a different kind of company – one that values human rights and respects freedom of association – but workers in the U.S. and elsewhere have frequently faced aggressive opposition when seeking to improve their lives by forming a union.

In fact, Sodexo is facing a separate NLRB trial in October stemming from charges that it illegally spied on pro-union workers at two Pennsylvania hospitals. Taken together with other reports of anti-union activity, Sodexo has much work to do in aligning its actions with its rhetoric.

SOURCE Service Employees International Union