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Ripley v. Sodexo, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 29, 2014

DAVID RIPLEY, Plaintiff,
SODEXO, INC., Defendant.


ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

I. Introduction

This case centers on alleged discrimination by Defendant, Sodexo, Inc., during Plaintiff's employment because of his race (African-American). Doc. No. 1-2. Plaintiff has advanced three causes of action against Defendant. Namely: Count I: race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"); Count II: race discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"); and Count III: wrongful discharge in violation of the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act ("PCHRA"). Count I confers jurisdiction in this Court based upon a federal question. Counts II and III are pendent state law claims.

Defendant has moved this Court to grant judgment in its favor as to each of Plaintiff's claims. Doc. No. 26. Plaintiff opposes this Motion in its entirety. Doc. Nos. 30, 31. After consideration of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and associated filings by both Parties, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 26) will be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

II. Statement of Facts

The following facts are material to the disposition of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judge and are undisputed by the Parties:

In February 2011, Plaintiff, an African American male, completed and signed an employment application to be considered for employment by Sodexo. Doc. No. 31, ¶ 1. The application includes a notice that "Sodexo provides equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by law." Id. at ¶ 2. Any applicant must read and affirmatively acknowledge that:

the information that I have provided is accurate to the best of my knowledge and subject to verification by Sodexo. I understand and agree that any misrepresentation or omission of fact in my application, in any supplement thereto, during any interview, or in any other employment-related records supplied or completed by me, shall be grounds for rejection of my application for employment or, if employed, for termination of my employment with Sodexo, regardless of the amount of time elapsed before discovery.

Id. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff affirmatively acknowledged this provision. Id . Plaintiff was required to complete a section that asked whether the applicant had "ever been convicted of a crime" by checking "Yes" or "No Record." Id. at ¶ 4. The application stated that "[a]ll applicants may answer No Record if a conviction has been sealed, pardoned, expunged, annulled, statutorily eradicated or dismissed upon condition of probation. A conviction will not necessarily disqualify you from employment with Sodexo." Id. at ¶ 5. Plaintiff checked "No Record." Id..

Plaintiff was offered employment by Sodexo and accepted the offer of a position in food service on April 15, 2011. Id. at ¶ 6. On August 10, 2012, Plaintiff executed an Authorization to Submit to Criminal Background Check so that Defendant could instruct the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") to complete a background check. Id. at ¶ 7. The Authorization required Plaintiff to provide information about any criminal convictions that had been listed on the employment application. Id. at ¶ 9 ("If you listed any criminal conviction information on the application (consistent with the state disclosure limitation), please provide the same information here... Date, place, nature of conviction(s): [intentionally left blank]." Id . Plaintiff, by signing the Authorization, represented that he understood that "if [he] refused to provide any information requested on the following page(s), or provide[d] false information, [he] will not be hired, or if employed, [he] may be terminated from employment." Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff did not list any criminal convictions on the Authorization. Id. at ¶ 10.

In October 2012, the FBI completed a background investigation of Plaintiff's criminal record at Sodexo's request. Id. at ¶ 11. The background check indicated that Plaintiff had been convicted of aggravated assault in September 1975 and had pled guilty to retail theft in November 1992. Id. at ¶ 12, Doc. No. 31-4. On November 9, 2012, Plaintiff was terminated; the cited reason was "Unable to successfully pass background check clearance - Falsification of Documentation." Id. at ¶ 13, Doc. No. 29-1. ("New background check requirements are part of the amendment to our contract with the University of Pittsburgh and are part of the University guidelines. David falsified his employment application.").

Additionally, Plaintiff sets forth the following facts in his Responsive Concise Statement of Facts (Doc. No. 31-1):

• The employment application is vague and does not adequately define important factors;
• Plaintiff did not list his 1975 conviction because he believed that it ...

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