Sodexo worker given final written warning following temporary suspension


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Sodexo employee Rafael Marquez addresses activists at The Arch during a rally supporting him on April 21. Marquez subsequently retained his job with Sodexo.

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

A Sodexo employee who was put on temporary suspension last week returned to work Tuesday after he said he received a final written warning stating that similar behavior in the future would result in “further disciplinary action.”

Rafael Marquez, a food service worker in 1835 Hinman dining hall, said he was initially accused of being “overexcited” and “under the influence” at the workplace, after which he was put on temporary suspension and required to turn in statements attesting to his stability to the Sodexo Human Resources Office. He said at the time he was accused, he was defending another worker who was being reprimanded for poor labor.

His situation spurred student action, with a march being organized to walk Marquez from The Arch to Sargent Hall where he turned in his statements to the Sodexo Human Resources Office. Since his suspension, Marquez said he has been in contact with several students about possibly planning further protests or organizing petitions.

(Students organize march to support Sodexo workers)

During his time off, he said he was called into the Sodexo office and “interrogated” for about an hour. Sodexo officials then further accused Marquez of engaging in threatening actions and violating parts of the official Sodexo documents, he said.

Due to privacy rights, Eddie Skidmore, Sodexo area marketing coordinator, said he could not comment on the situation. Rick Siwecki, Sodexo district human resources manager, referred comment to Erich Geiger, resident dining operations manager, who could not be reached.

Marquez said being given a final written warning violates the progressive discipline agreement in his union contract. This agreement says an employee must be given a set number of warnings prior to being terminated or given further disciplinary measures, he said.

“They’re skipping the first warning and second warning and just going straight to a final written warning,” he said. “They’re stating it’s a fireable offense, and that’s why they’re stating this is a final warning,” Marquez said.

The official warning drew on two main clauses in the Sodexo documents, he said. Marquez said he was accused of engaging in actions “in direct violation of Sodexo rules” and was described as “threatening, intimidating or interfering with several employees, management, client employees, students or any other person on company and/or client premises.”

“These new allegations say nothing about being under the influence or overexcited,” Marquez said. “Now they’re trying to conjure up new allegations.”

Marquez denied the accusations, noting he had more than 15 statements from students and coworkers confirming he did not “act under the influence or act out of the ordinary.” He said Sodexo had about five statements from various members of the managerial staff which included documentation that reflected poorly on Marquez’s behavior.

In protest of the allegations, Marquez said he plans to file a grievance with the union appealing both the final written warning and the denial of pay during the time he was suspended, noting the process of filing a grievance could eventually lead to arbitration.

“I’m going to fight it to the end, to arbitration if it leads to that,” Marquez said.

He added that the student support he has been receiving throughout the process helps to both spread awareness about the issues and demonstrate to Sodexo that he will not stop fighting.

Weinberg sophomore Cinthya Rodriguez, one of the organizers of the march showing support for Marquez, said although she has not yet planned any other formal initiatives, she would continue activism efforts based around workers’ needs. She included the possibility of starting a petition or planning other similar acts to show the community the importance of workers’ rights.

“It’s all dependent on the workers’ need and what they want,” Rodriguez said. “Student and workers are very much in solidarity in this campus.”

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Twitter: @beccasavransky