Aramark Is Fighting Against The Claim That This Latina Worker Was Unjustly Fired
Aramark, a food service company, is facing a serious backlash after firing a long-time employee from its American University branch. Ana Ebanks, an immigrant from Honduras, recently missed 40 minutes of work from her job at a dining hall. According to a recent Facebook post, that led to Ebanks being fired after 10 years of service.
A Facebook post by a former AU student named Carlos Vera claims that Ebanks was fired after missing 40 minutes of work. Her reason for being late? Ebanks was taking a class at American University.
Just days before being fired by Aramark, Ana received a full-ride scholarship to attend the Latin Legum Magister program at American University’s Washington College of Law. Josselyn told mitú that her mother fled from Honduras 13 years ago, leaving behind her law career for safety in the U.S. (Ebanks was the subject of a Washington Post profile in 2010).
Ana’s classes were all at night, except for one that was in the middle of the day. “She went to her supervisors and told them about this recent win of the scholarship,” Josselyn told mitú. “They didn’t take it well.”
Ana’s daughter believes her mother’s outspokenness is what led to Ana being fired.
According to her daughter, Josselyn Ebanks, Ana has been an outspoken member of the Aramark team since the organization took over food services for the university.
“When Aramark came on board of the food service workers they promised wonders: truth is they are bad,” Josselyn told mitú. “They were creating a bad situation there but mom stood quiet. She would go to student meetings and speak on behalf of all workers and ask them to help us fight against them.”
But Ana tried to work things out with her managers beforehand to avoid a bad situation, according to Vera and Josselyn.
According to Josselyn, Aramark management, Ana and some shop stewards representing Ana met to establish accommodations so Ana could take her class. A verbal agreement was reached.
“On Wednesday there was a meeting where they promised verbally [that] they would accommodate her, but on Thursday, they called the union shop steward, who was present in the meeting where they made the agreement to accommodate [Ana], and told her she didn’t have to work on Friday,” Josselyn told mitú. “On Friday they called other people who were not aware of the previous verbal agreement and told them they had to fire her for stealing time.”
One of the representatives for Ana told Aramark management to reconsider firing her since other students have been accommodated before, according to Josselyn. However, Ana and the representative were told that management would take a chance and fired her.
The firing of Ana has sparked outrage across the AU campus. Vera, who also founded Exploited Wonks. which tracks worker abuse stories from AU, told mitú that Ana is beloved by the student body and that she is an employee who goes above and beyond. He credits the students’ admiration of Ana for the success of his social media campaign.
In response to Ana’s firing, Vera started the social media campaign #Justice4Ana.
— Zainab (@zainabm24) September 6, 2016
Yet, according to Karen Cutler, the vice president of corporate communications for Aramark, the information being spread on social media is not accurate.
“Although individual personnel matters are private and it would be inappropriate to comment publicly on a specific situation, we can assure unequivocally that the information being shared on social media is inaccurate and incomplete with many key facts omitted,” Cutler told mitú in a email statement. “We believe strongly in career development and fully encourage any associate who wants to continue his/her education or acquire additional skills outside of work. When associates are represented by a union, as is the case at American [University], they must follow terms and conditions around their employment set by a collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, between their employer and union.”
And the students of AU are not letting up on AU and even staged a sit-in in the Aramark office on campus. Josselyn is touched by the amount of support for her mother.
“It’s [the response] been great, I was kind of surprised,” Josselyn told mitú. “A student got close to mom and told her she was in that rally because of her, because she knew the kind of worker my mom was mom started crying. The response has been amazing since everybody knows how terrible Aramark is.”
“Workers have also called and said everything will be fine, that we must stick together,” Josselyn recalled.
There is still no word on whether or not Ana will be reinstated to her former position but the AU student body is making sure the world knows what they think of Aramark’s treatment of it’s employees.
Watch the FB video of the sit-in below.
Posted by Noa Leibowitz on Tuesday, September 6, 2016
mitú reached out to American University for comment on the matter and there has been no response as of publication.
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