A McDonald's employee claims she was fired from her job at the hamburger chain after she paid for a donation of food for firefighters.
Heather Levia, a single mother in nursing school and an eight-year employee of McDonald's, was working the morning shift at an Olean, N.Y., McDonald's establishment last week when she received a call from the Salvation Army and was asked if McDonald's could donate some food to local firefighters who had been called to a house fire earlier that day, according to the Olean Times Herald. (WIVB reports the firefighters themselves placed the orders.) Levia called her corporate office and asked if the company would cover the cost, but the request was reportedly denied. So, she and her coworkers then pooled their money and paid $150 for the food.
When word got out that the employees paid the bill, the firefighters allegedly called McDonald's to complain about Levia and the others being made to "feel obligated to pay for their [the firefighters'] meals," according to WIVB. Levia, 23, claims her boss then told her "you opened a whole bee's nest," per WIVB.
On Friday, Feb. 14, Levia was fired.
McDonald's denied allegations that she was let go for the donations in an emailed statement sent to The Huffington Post on Feb. 20, on behalf of the Olean McDonald's owner, Tom Meyers.
"We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination," the statement read, in part. "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 posted about the termination on her Facebook page, writing:
I have been with the olean mcdonalds for almost eight years.. Today I was terminated because local firefighters called for donations for food. The mcdonalds company denied the donations to help support our firefighters. Myself and two other employees paid out of pocket to feed these firemen.. asking the office before answering yes or no to these firemen. I was told I swore and Hung up on a office worker. Who would ever think that someone would lose their job for giving to those who risk their lives to save ours [all sic].
“I was told I was being fired for going against the wishes of McDonald’s as well has having my own opinion on not donating to the firefighters,” she told the Olean Times Herald. “I was so caught off-guard by this. I’m very distraught that I would be fired over something like this. I was just trying to give back to the firefighters and they weren’t asking for much.”