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Los Angeles County Spends Taxpayers Dollars On Sodexo,

a Multinational Firm, with a History of Racial Discrimination


By Gloria Zuurveen


LOS ANGELES— “Look around you. Practically every good and service you use is not provided by companies in your neighborhood.

Multi-national corporations bring you most everything from your television set to your fruits and vegetables. They are so common place now that most of us don’t notice them and we just assume they are benign operations here to serve us,” said, Nicole C. Lee, Esq, in her article entitled: Sodexo: Human Rights Abuses In The Food Service Industry. 

Los Angeles County seems to step right in line with whatever Sodexo want when it comes to contracting even after an audit found excessive overbilling in the amount of $650,000.  Overbilling on services despite the fact that evidence shows the perpetual filth from not cleaning and providing needed contractual maintenance service in one of their contracted facilities.

In a September 30, 2014 Contract Compliance Review report from the County of Los Angeles Department of Auditor-Controller, John Naimo, Acting Auditor-Controller referencing Sodexo America, LLC- A Department of Health Services HouseKeeping Services Contract Service Provider, Naimo said that the Department of Health Services (DHS) had requested his department’s review because their contract monitor noted problems in their Quality Control Plan (QCP). However, due to recurring problems, DHS requested that they perform an independent review of multiple DHS facilities in order to identify reasons for the intermittent problems, and to evaluate Sodexo’s compliance with their County contract.

This review comes two years after more than 200 county workers protested outside the Board of Supervisors' meeting against a county proposal to award two five-year contracts - totaling about $11.2 million annually was previously held by union contractor Servicon to Sodexo America, LLC, whose French parent company is billed as the second-largest catering company in the world. This is the same company  according to that agreed in 2005 to pay $80 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of black employees who charged that they were routinely barred from promotions and segregated within the company. The agreement, one of the biggest race-related job bias settlements in recent years, also included detailed provisions for increasing diversity at the Maryland-based company, including promotion incentives, monitoring and training. In the United States Black workers are not promoted at the same rate as their white counterparts. Cynthia Carter McReynolds, one of the named plaintiffs, said she hoped the $80 million dollar settlement would let others avoid the sense of frustration she felt over 20 years as Sodexo moved her laterally from one location to another but never promoted her. McReynolds, who has a master's degree in management and human resources, is now general manager of food and nutrition at Howard University. "Most of the 21 years, I have pretty much been in the same position, maybe on different accounts," she said. "I think this case will pry open the doors of opportunity not only for me but for all who follow. I'm more hopeful than ever."

With a record like Sodexo, the LA County Board of Supervisors decided to award them the contracts for $4.9 million on a fixed-fee basis from December 2013 to 2014. This is the company Los Angeles County is investing public tax dollars. Sodexo, the report said, provide housekeeping services for Olive View-UCLA Medical Center (Olive View), Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (Harbor), and eight County health centers located in the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Supervisorial Districts. The auditor’s report said that Sodexo did not always provide the housekeeping services as required by their contract. At two of the four facilities reviewed, the level of  non-compliance impacted the sanitary conditions at the facilities and subjected DHS to potential citations and fines from Health care accreditation and licensing organizations. Some examples noted were:

Olive View’s Emergency Room exam rooms had dust buildup on the floors, light fixtures, and patient care equipment, several hand sanitizers throughout the facility were not functional or were empty, and Sodexo staff did not empty trash bins as required. In addition, the parking areas has an excessive amount of trash on the ground and trash bins were overflowing. Harbor’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU)  had dust buildup on patient care and office equipment, and ICU trash can were full. DHS staff indicated that these were recurring issues, and that ICU staff would sometimes need to remove trash and replace bed sheets due to a lack of Sodexo’s housekeeping staff. Attachment II, page 3 of 4 item 9, Sodexo did not clean a room on a daily basis as required that  is used to prepare intravenous fluids at Harbor. In a letter dated August 9, 2014, Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., Director, Health Service for Los Angeles County said reference the Contract Compliance Review dated September 30, 2014, “This review was specifically requested by DHS since it is a significant contract that impacts direct patient care. He said in the second paragraph that Sodexo’s response to the recommendations did not always adequately indicate a corrective action plan for the recommendations. Moreover, Dr. Katz said, “Sodexo submitted a revised Quality Control Plan (QCP) for DHS approval that remains inadequate” Due to the significant contractor non-compliance and potential impact to DHS, one of Dr. Katz requirements consisted of placement of Sodexo in the County’s Contractor Alert Reporting Database.

According to evidence gathered, Sodexo should remain in the County’s Contractor Alert Reporting Database due to continuous inadequacies due to willful neglect and failure to provide quality service as a private contractor.



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