[Federal Register: May 30, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 104)]
[Notices]               
[Page 29301-29303]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr30my01-41]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Arbitration Panel Decision Under the Randolph-Sheppard Act

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of arbitration panel decision under the Randolph-
Sheppard Act.

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SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that on August 22, 2000, an arbitration 
panel rendered a decision in the matter of Jack Bedikian v. California 
Department of Rehabilitation (Docket No. R-S/98-6). This panel was 
convened by the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 
107d-1(a) upon receipt of a complaint filed by petitioner, Jack 
Bedikian.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A copy of the full text of the 
arbitration panel decision may be obtained from George F. Arsnow, U.S. 
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3230, Mary E. 
Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2738. Telephone: (202) 205-9317. 
If you use a

[[Page 29302]]

telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the TDD 
number at (202) 205-8298.
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paragraph.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act (20 
U.S.C. 107d-2(c)) (the Act), the Secretary publishes in the Federal 
Register a synopsis of each arbitration panel decision affecting the 
administration of vending facilities on Federal and other property.

Background

    This dispute concerns the alleged improper termination of Mr. Jack 
Bedikian, a licensed blind vendor, from the Business Enterprise Program 
of the California Department of Rehabilitation, the State licensing 
agency (SLA).
    A summary of the facts is as follows: Mr. Bedekian (complainant) 
was a licensed manager under the SLA's Randolph-Sheppard vending 
facility program. Beginning in 1991, complainant operated a cafeteria 
and vending machine service at the Worldway Postal Center (Worldway).
    The SLA alleged that, starting in 1993, it received complaints from 
Worldway concerning health and service issues. Specifically, in 1995 
the Safety Specialist of the Office of Safety and Health at Worldway, 
who had the responsibility for investigating health and safety 
complaints from its employees, requested that the SLA terminate Mr. 
Bedikian's agreement to operate the facility based on complaints from 
its employees.
    Subsequently, the SLA issued a formal reprimand to complainant 
allowing 30 days for corrective action. During this time, the SLA 
alleged that it provided assistance to help complainant correct 
deficiencies and meet the needs of the customers. The SLA noted some 
improvement in the cafeteria operation. However, problems concerning 
bug infestation of food and drink and moldy bread were still being 
reported to the Safety Specialist.
    In September 1997, the SLA and the Safety Specialist from Worldway 
met again to review the complaints of the employees concerning the 
freshness of food from both the cafeteria and the vending machines, 
pricing, and rudeness of staff. Staff of the SLA's Business Enterprise 
Program subsequently conducted an on-site review of complainant's 
facility.
    On December 11, 1997, the Los Angeles County Health Department 
requested that complainant close his facility as the result of 
violations in 17 categories, including unsafe food temperature, 
handling and storage of food, rodent and insect problems, and improper 
storage of cooking equipment and supplies. Other physical and 
structural problems were identified that were the responsibility of 
Worldway, which initiated corrective action to resolve these problems.
    On December 16, 1997, the Los Angeles County Health Department gave 
complainant conditional approval to reopen the cafeteria and vending 
machine service serving packaged foods only. Complainant allegedly 
disregarded this restriction and attempted to serve hot food although 
hot water for utensil cleaning and hand washing was unavailable. On 
December 17th, the SLA issued a termination notice to complainant, 
which was later rescinded upon the SLA's learning of the conditional 
approval received by complainant to reopen the facility.
    The SLA alleged that it continued to receive complaints from 
Worldway in January 1998. On January 26, 1998, staff of the SLA 
performed an inspection of complainant's facility and found 24 
sanitation deficiencies. Subsequently, on February 5, 1998, complainant 
was notified of his license termination, removal from the Worldway 
Postal Center, and his appeal rights.
    Complainant requested a full evidentiary hearing on this matter, 
which was held on March 27, 1998. In a decision dated April 16, 1998, 
the Administrative Law Judge affirmed the SLA's decision to terminate 
complainant's license and remove him from the Worldway Postal Center 
cafeteria and vending machine service. It was this decision that 
complainant sought to have reviewed by a Federal arbitration panel. An 
arbitration hearing on this matter was held on August 20, 1999, and a 
second hearing was held on December 14, 1999.

Arbitration Panel Decision

    The central issue before the arbitration panel was whether the 
actions taken by the California Department of Rehabilitation to 
terminate the vending license of Mr. Bedikian and remove him from 
managing the Worldway cafeteria and vending machine service were in 
accordance with the Act (20 U.S.C. 107 et seq.), the implementing 
regulations (34 CFR part 395), and applicable State rules and 
regulations.
    The panel ruled that complainant was essentially terminated for 
poor performance in the operation of the Worldway cafeteria and vending 
machine service.
    Based upon the evidence presented, the panel determined that, while 
complainant was not one of the more successful managers, there was no 
demonstrable effort by the SLA, other than structural repairs, to 
assist complainant in correcting problems and keeping the Worldway 
cafeteria and vending machine service operating. Further, according to 
the evidence received in the record, the panel determined that the SLA 
and the postal facility cooperated in the removal of the complainant.
    Therefore, the panel ruled that the actions taken by the California 
Department of Rehabilitation to remove Mr. Bedikian from managing the 
Worldway cafeteria and vending machine service were not in accordance 
with the Act, implementing regulations, and State rules and 
regulations. The law specifically requires the SLA to assist the vendor 
in all reasonable ways to overcome the problems cited by the Federal 
facility. The obligation on the SLA is an affirmative obligation, which 
requires the State to do something affirmatively.
    Additionally, the panel agreed that complainant was entitled to 
compensatory damages for the loss of net profits from his business in 
1995 and 1996, as well as attorney's fees and costs totaling 
$59,570.44. The panel directed the SLA to place the complainant in the 
next available facility that was likely to generate approximately the 
same income.
    The views and opinions expressed by the panel do not necessarily 
represent the views and opinions of the U.S. Department of Education.


[[Page 29303]]


    Dated: May 23, 2001.
Francis V. Corrigan,
Deputy Director, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research.
[FR Doc. 01-13468 Filed 5-29-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P