A McDonald's employee who spend the past eight years working at the fast food chain was fired after she bought food for firefighters and then clashed with her boss over the issue.
Heather Levia, a 23-year-old single mom with twins, told WIVB-TV in western New York that she was working her standard morning shift at McDonald’s when a group of firefighters came in. The Allegany Fire Department had been in the news recently for putting out a house fire in sub-zero temperatures, and Levia said she wanted to show her gratitude by paying for the group's 25 breakfast sandwiches out of her own pocket.
“Just because I appreciate everything they do,” she said.
Another group of firefighters came in later that day, ordering $70 worth of food. Levia said she texted her boss to see if the store could provide it for free. When she was denied, the young mom then called McDonald’s corporate office only to be given the same response.
Evidently unsatisfied with that answer, Levia raised enough money among her co-workers to pay for the food themselves. The firefighters then called Levia’s boss to say that they never expect free food, but it was wrong of McDonald’s to make Levia feel as if she needed to pay for the food herself.
Whether the company told the firefighters that Levia had volunteered to pay for the food herself is unknown.
Regardless, she found herself out of a job the next day after being told she was fired for cursing at a superior.
“You opened a whole bee’s nest,” Levia said her boss told her before denying that she broke any rules. “I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous but it was not implied to anybody.”
Allegany Fire Media Officer Gordon Scott told WIVB that the firefighters were surprised by the gesture.
“It was a shock. We certainly regret the fact she lost her job,” he said. “We can’t speak on corporate policy because we don’t know the background of it. It was a sad affair because a gentleman lost a home. And it’s even worse because we now know that this girl apparently lost her job because of it."
Tom Meyers, owner of the Olean, New York McDonald’s, refused to give specific details on the incident but denied that management was behind any wrongdoing.
“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,” he said.
“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, for her part, told the news station that the attention surrounding her story has already led to a number of job offers.
“It’s just wrong,” she said of her dismissal. “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.”