Spectator Editorial – Sodexho settles

Choice is not an option afforded to the students of UW-Eau Claire and other universities across the nation when it comes to food, and the company with a monopoly on campus meal selection settled an $80 million lawsuit Wednesday.

Sodexho, Inc., which has held a contract with UW-Eau Claire since 2002, had a case filed against it in 2001 by thousands of black employees who cited inter-company segregation and inequities in promotions, according to an Associated Press article.

As a result of the settlement, 10 lead plaintiffs and 3,000 other black, salaried workers will receive up to $120,000 each.

Sodexho, in addition to serving the dietary needs of universities, has a contract with the U.S. Marines and corporate cafeterias across the nation.

The plaintiffs in the case deserve compensation for Sodexho’s unfair promotion and business methods. However, it is unfortunate that this cost will most likely fall on the backs of students at universities such as Eau Claire. And, while the company’s food prices are already inflated, students living on campus have no option but to pay the high costs.

This lawsuit settlement will not have an effect on the company’s public image for just that reason. No matter how unfair or potentially discriminatory Sodexho’s actions were, students currently have no other option but to support it.

In addition, Sodexho is just one in a long string of big corporations that have settled lawsuits based on discrimination, and therefore will not be villified. Wal-Mart is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit based on sex discrimination, and Coca-Cola paid $192.5 million to minority employees in 2000.

Despite potentially raising prices for college students, some good can come of Sodexho’s settlement. Hopefully, those experiencing discrimination in the workplace can look to this case as an example and realize such practices cannot and should not be tolerated.