United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota (“the
University”) moves for summary judgment. Plaintiff
Andrelino Cardoso opposes summary judgment. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court grants the University's
is “an African-American of Portuguese origin.”
Pl. Br. 8, ECF No. 58. On May 14, 2012, the University hired
Cardoso as Director of Dining Services at the University of
Minnesota Duluth (“UMD”) campus. On June 9, 2014,
the University notified Cardoso that it decided against
renewing his employment contract. Cardoso commenced this suit
claiming that the University's failure to renew his
contract constituted (1) age discrimination in violation of
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”) and (2) race, color, and national origin
discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. Amend Compl., ECF No. 28. Cardoso has since
abandoned his ADEA claim. Pl. Br. 1.
University insists that it declined to renew Cardoso's
contract for three main reasons. First, Cardoso had a
“strained relationship with Dining Services union
employees.” Def. Br. 5, ECF No. 49. Second, Cardoso
failed “to follow his superior's directives.”
Id. at 4. Third, Cardoso had “substandard
communication and management skills.” Id. at
12; Smyth Decl. Ex. C, ECF No. 52.
Cardoso's relationship with the Teamsters.
five years immediately preceding Cardoso's tenure as
Director of Dining Services, the Minnesota Teamsters Public
and Law Enforcement Employees Union 320 (“the
Teamsters”) filed only one grievance on behalf of a
Dining Services employee. Rossi Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 53.
During Cardoso's roughly two-year tenure, UMD received
seven grievances from the Teamsters on behalf of Dining
Services employees. Cardoso Dep. 46:8-56:17, ECF No. 50-3.
University had warned Cardoso that certain actions he
intended to take concerning union employees were likely to
elicit grievances asserting violations of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between the
University and the Teamsters. Rossi Decl. ¶¶ 9, 10,
12, 14, 15, 16, 19; Id. Ex. A. These warnings proved
correct. Most of the seven grievances relate to Cardoso's
alleged breach of the CBA. Id. The University
eventually agreed to monetary settlements for these
grievances. Id. ¶ 20.
knew that the University viewed his troubled relationship
with the Teamsters as a shortcoming. Cardoso Dep.
25:12-28:18; 31:6-34:23; 37:1-39:22. His six month review and
his two annual reviews all list this shortcoming. Herber
Decl. Exs. E, F, G, ECF No. 50.
Cardoso's failure to follow directives.
early 2014, Cardoso met with his immediate supervisor, Dr.
Corbin Smyth, to discuss the possibility of changing
UMD's method of purchasing goods for Dining Services.
Cardoso Dep. 59; Smyth Dep. 8, ECF No. 50-8. At the time, UMD
used a competitive bid process to purchase goods. Engelmeier
Decl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 51. Cardoso hoped to instead adopt a
primary vendor system. Id. ¶ 9.
systems impact two of the University's strategic goals:
sustainability and positive community involvement. Smyth
Decl. Ex. C, ECF No. 52; Erwin Dep. 14:5-16:4, ECF No. 50-4.
As a result, Smyth instructed Cardoso to form a committee to
analyze the merits of each system of purchasing goods. Smyth
Dep. 8:21-9:3; Erwin Dep. 14:5-16:4.
this, Cardoso asked Claudia Engelmeier, who was then the head
of Purchasing for Dining Services at UMD, to explore the
process of moving to a primary vendor system. Engelmeier
Decl. ¶ 8; Id. Ex. B. Cardoso later met
one-on-one with the staff of the Dining Services Warehouse.
Engelmeier Decl. ¶ 9. At these meetings, he told staff
that UMD Dining Services was moving to a primary vendor
system. Id. Cardoso then emailed staff to request
that they maintain the confidentiality of the information he
shared regarding the primary vendor system. Id. Exs.
C, D. He also requested that they ask only him questions
about the primary vendor system. Id.
of 2014, Cardoso asked for Engelmeier's input on an email
that he intended to send to the “Primary Vendor
Committee.” Id. ¶ 10; Id. Ex. E.
The email stated that the committee's “charge is to
do the necessary work that will culminate in the UMD issuing
a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Primary Vendor for its
products.” Id. At this point, Engelmeier
“became alarmed that this ...