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Deng v. Aramark Educational Group

March 23, 2006

YAOHUA DENG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARAMARK EDUCATION GROUP, INC.; CHARTWELLS COMPANY; AND MR. DENNIS LESTRANGE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Yaohua Deng ("Plaintiff") filed a lawsuit on January 18, 2000, entitled Yaohua Deng v. Aramark Education Group, Inc., 00 CIV. 354 ("Deng I"), alleging age and national origin discrimination against Defendant Aramark Educational Group ("Aramark"). In a Memorandum and Order dated September 22, 2004 ("Sept. 22 Order"), this Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment and the case was closed.

One month later, on October 21, 2004, Plaintiff filed the present lawsuit against Defendants Aramark, Chartwells Company ("Chartwells"), and Dennis Lestrange ("Lestrange") alleging race, age, and national origin discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e) ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq. ("ADEA"), and New York Human Rights Law, § 296. Plaintiff's factual allegations are essentially the same as those posed in his prior suit. Defendants now move to dismiss. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' motions are GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The following summary of facts is drawn from the complaint and this Court's Sept. 22 Order in Deng I. Plaintiff is a naturalized citizen of the United States, born in China, now residing in Stony Brook, New York, and at all times relevant to this action was over 55 years of age. Defendant Aramark is a corporation with its principal place of business in Philadelphia. Defendant Chartwells is a corporation with its principal place of business in Charlotte, North Carolina. Defendant LeStrange is the Resident Director for Defendant Chartwells on the campus of the State University of New York at Stony Brook ("the University").

From 1991 to 1998, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant Aramark, at the dining halls of the University. When Aramark first obtained the contract to service the University, Plaintiff was employed in the dining halls as a union dishwasher at a wage of $6 per hour. According to Plaintiff, in January 1992, Aramark, without notice, reclassified him as a "student" employee, even though he was never a student at the University. Plaintiff continued to work as a dishwasher until September 1993, when he began to receive assignments as a cook, albeit at the same wage he was earning as a dishwasher.

He was a cook, receiving small wage increases, until November 1996, when he returned to dishwashing. On February 6, 1997, Plaintiff learned that his wage had been cut from $7.50 per hour to $6.50 per hour. Plaintiff was allegedly told that the reduction was necessary because his classification as a "student" in 1993 excluded him from the terms of the union contract, and that his reappointment to the union dishwasher position required him to begin at the bottom of the pay scale again. In addition, Plaintiff contends that he was routinely denied overtime pay, did not receive raises or pay comparable to that of other employees in the same position, and was denied sick leave, vacation time, and other benefits to which he was entitled.

During the period from September 1993 to November 1996, Plaintiff was employed as a cook at the Chinese food station in the Kelly Cafeteria at Stony Brook. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement in place at that time, cooks were not members of the union. In November 1996, the Kelly Cafeteria was renovated and the Chinese food station where Plaintiff worked was closed. Plaintiff then began working as a dishwasher. Plaintiff's status as a dishwasher required him to become a union member. Because Plaintiff switched from a non-union position as a cook to a union position as a dishwasher, he was classified as a new employee under the union's collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Plaintiff was paid according to the CBA pay schedule in effect at that time. According to Dennis LeStrange, Plaintiff's manager, Plaintiff's decrease in pay was attributable to his switch in position from a cook to a dishwasher.

On January 4, 1999, the Plaintiff wrote to the United States Department of Justice, complaining about the treatment he received from Aramark. The Department of Justice forwarded his letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), who treated the correspondence as a charge of discrimination filed on January 4, 1999. On October 8, 1999, the EEOC wrote to the Plaintiff, explaining that the acts he complained of were outside the 300-day statute of limitations period preceding his charge, and issued him a "right-to-sue" letter.

Plaintiff then commenced his initial action by filing an employment discrimination complaint, alleging violations of Title VII and the ADEA. According to the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Aramark discriminated against him on the basis of his age and his national origin. In his statement of facts, Plaintiff extensively recounted his employment history, focusing primarily on disparities in his wages.

In 2001, Aramark moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. By order dated February 11, 2002, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's age discrimination claim, finding that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. Plaintiff's national origin discrimination claim survived, but Defendant Aramark was ultimately granted summary judgment as to that claim on September 22, 2004.

In July 2004, while Deng I was still pending, Plaintiff filed another charge of discrimination with the EEOC. He set forth the same facts as in his prior charge, but alleged that the new charge was based upon evidence discovered in October and November 2003. The EEOC dismissed the second charge as untimely. Nearly four months later, and just one month after Deng I was closed, Plaintiff ...


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