A 23-year-old New York woman was fired from her job at McDonald’s after she bought breakfast for a group of firefighters in her community.
Heather Levia, a mother of twins who was working two jobs to put herself through nursing school, said she knew the firefighters had been working in sub-zero temperatures.
As the morning manager at a McDonald’s in Olean, N.Y., she pulled out $83 of her own money and decided to buy them their 25 breakfast sandwiches and hash browns, according to WIVB-TV.
“Just because I appreciate everything they do,” she said.
Then, another group of firefighters stopped by and ordered about $70 worth of breakfast.
Levia said she texted her manager to see if the store could expense their breakfast. He said no. She then called the corporate office and asked the same question, explaining that she thought it was the company’s policy to treat first responders from time to time to a complimentary meal.
“It’s very common in our store,” she said.
After she was told again that she couldn’t expense the firefighters’ food, she and her coworkers ponied up and bought the firefighters breakfast.
That’s when things took a turn: Some of the firefighters discovered that Levia paid for their meals.
Believing that the store had forced her to pick up their tab, a few of them called the corporate office, complaining about what they thought was a pretty unfair deal for the mom.
“You opened a whole bees nest,” Levia said she was later told by her manager.
When she showed up for her next shift, after eight years on the job, she was fired. The reason? She supposedly “swore” at her manager, a claim she denies.
“I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody,” she said.
For their part, the firefighters said they didn’t expect her to pay for their meals and that they are extremely grateful.
“It was a shock. We certainly regret the fact she lost her job. We can’t speak on corporate policy because we don’t know the background of it,” Allegany Fire spokesman Gordon Scott told WIVB-TV. “It was a sad affair because a gentleman lost a home. And it’s even worse because we know now that this gal apparently lost her job because of it.”
Levia added: “It’s just wrong. I wish the communities would change and help each other out. I wish that things didn’t have to be the way they are. And if losing my job is going to speak out to the community, then that’s what it’s going to do.”
The owner of the Olean McDonald’s provided WIVB-TV with the following statement:
The Meyers Organization has always valued the employees who serve our customers every day. We likewise continue to be an ardent supporter of our police and fire departments, along with other first responders. They are always welcome in our restaurants, and we will continue to support them in the future.
We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination. Out of respect for Ms. Levia and her privacy, it would not be appropriate to comment in detail on the reasons she is no longer employed by our organization. Still, it should be pointed out that the allegations are absolutely not true. We would never penalize an employee for showing appropriate gratitude for the work of our firefighters.
Levia said she has been approached with multiple job offers since her story has gotten out.
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