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Tejeda v. Os Restaurant Services, LLC

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

January 24, 2014

Lorenzo Tejeda, Plaintiff,
v.
OS Restaurant Services, LLC, Defendant.

Clayton D. Halunen, Ross D. Stadheim, and Michelle Dye Neumann, Halunen & Associates, 1650 IDS Center, for Plaintiff.

Joseph G. Schmitt, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, Kevin David Johnson, Marquis W. Heilig, and Whitney M. Buescher, Thompson Sizemore Gonzalez & Hearing PA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Defendant OS Restaurant Services, LLC's Partial Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 10]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Lorenzo Tejeda is a Hispanic male and Minnesota resident. (Compl. ¶ 1 [Doc. No. 1-1].) Defendant OS Restaurant Services, LLC ("Outback Steakhouse") is incorporated under Delaware state law, headquartered in Florida, and conducts business in Minnesota. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff is a current employee of Defendant, for which he has worked since 2000. (Id. ¶ 6; Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.'s Partial Mot. to Dismiss at 2 [Doc. No. 12].)

The facts are alleged as follows. Plaintiff began his employment with Defendant as a cook at its location in San Antonio, Texas. (Compl. ¶ 6.) In January 2002, Plaintiff relocated to Minnesota and worked as a cook at the Outback Steakhouse in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Id. at ¶ 7.) In August 2003, Plaintiff was promoted to kitchen manager at the Maplewood, Minnesota location. (Id. ¶ 8.) In March 2009, Defendant's Joint Venture Partner, Greg Michals, promoted Plaintiff to partner of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin location. (Id.) In August 2009, Defendant's location in Eau Claire closed, eliminating Plaintiff's position. (Id.)

After the Outback Steakhouse in Eau Claire closed, Mr. Michals offered Plaintiff a partnership at the Madison, Wisconsin location, and Plaintiff accepted the offer. (Id. ¶ 9.) Two days after Plaintiff's acceptance, Mr. Michals rescinded the offer, telling Plaintiff that he already had promised that location to Kelley Compton. (Id.) Mr. Michals apologized to Plaintiff and told him to be patient because he would make him a partner again soon. (Id.)

Plaintiff then moved back to Minnesota, and Mr. Michals asked him to be the interim partner at the Outback Steakhouse in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. (Id. ¶ 10.) Two weeks into the job, Plaintiff asked Mr. Michals if the partnership was permanent. (Id.) Mr. Michals told Plaintiff to stand by because he did not know yet. (Id.) In September 2009, Mr. Michals revoked Plaintiff's partnership at the Coon Rapids location. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff's position went to Chris French, a recently displaced partner of Defendant when the Outback Steakhouse in Eden Prairie, Minnesota closed. (Id.)

Plaintiff expressed his dissatisfaction that Mr. French received priority over him. (Id. ¶ 12.) Mr. Michals agreed and reassured Plaintiff that "the next store in the Twin Cities that opens up, besides Bloomington, is yours if you let me take care of Chris French first." (Id.) Plaintiff and Mr. Michals discussed numerous "what if" scenarios, all of which resulted in Plaintiff becoming a partner. (Id. ¶ 13.) Mr. Michals asked Plaintiff to accept a pay cut from $60, 000 to $45, 000 to manage the front of the house at the Roseville, Minnesota location because he would become a partner soon. (Id.) Based on Mr. Michals' promise that Plaintiff would receive the next partnership in the area, Plaintiff agreed. (Id.) Plaintiff then moved to Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, because from there he could easily and conveniently manage any location that became available in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. (Id.)

In the summer of 2010, Diane Kenney, a former partner in Minnesota and current Joint Venture Partner for Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota, visited the Roseville, Minnesota location. (Id. ¶ 14.) Ms. Kenney asked Plaintiff why he was not a partner, and Plaintiff responded that he was promised the next location in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. (Id.) Ms. Kenney asked Plaintiff if he was interested in moving to Colorado to be a partner there. (Id.) Plaintiff expressed his strong interest. (Id.) Ms. Kenney stated that she needed the approval of Mr. Michals, and Plaintiff agreed. (Id.)

Mr. Michals addressed Ms. Kenney's proposal with Plaintiff and asked why Plaintiff was interested in moving to Colorado. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff replied that "Colorado is a nice state and I'd finally be managing my own location." (Id.) Mr. Michals stated that he "had plans" for Plaintiff in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and there would soon be an opportunity for Plaintiff because one of the partners would be terminated soon. (Id.) Plaintiff knew that Mr. Michals was referring to a partner at the Woodbury, Minnesota location. (Id.) Based on Mr. Michals' representation, Plaintiff decided not to pursue the partnership opportunity in Colorado. (Id.)

In May 2011, Plaintiff received an email notification that the partnership at Defendant's Rochester, Minnesota location was available. (Id. ¶ 16.) Mr. Michals approached Plaintiff to ensure that he was not applying for the position, repeated his plans for Plaintiff in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, and stated that he had promised the Rochester, Minnesota location to someone else. (Id.) Plaintiff reminded Mr. Michals of their arrangement and his patience, which Mr. Michals acknowledged. (Id.) ...


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