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Did food donation lead to worker's wrongful termination?

The expression "no good deed goes unpunished" may seem trite to many people, but for one former McDonald's worker in New York State, it best describes her recent situation, which may have been an example of wrongful dismissal.

A local McDonald's manager wanted to do something for local firefighters who braved frigid temperatures to extinguish a fire that left an elderly man homeless. So when firefighters ordered breakfast at the Olean, New York, fast-food outlet, she took over $80 from her own pocket and paid the bill.

Shortly after, another batch of firefighters came to the store and ordered $70 worth of food, Having worked at the store for years, she knew that it regularly provided free meals to police officers. She sent a text to her boss to ask if the company was willing to do the same for the firefighters. Both her boss and the corporate office said "no." Eventually, Levia and her fellow employees paid for the food.

After word spread that she had paid the bill, firefighters contacted her boss and complained, thinking the store had forced her to pay. When she next showed up for work, she was fired, allegedly for swearing at a supervisor, a charge she denied. The owner of the McDonald's store denied the firing had anything to do with the free meals. The firefighters were grateful for the worker's gesture but were saddened by what seemed like a wrongful discharge.

The incident left the woman in a tough position because she cares for twins even as she puts herself through nursing school. Fortunately, she has already gotten several job offers.

New York employees who feel that they, too, have done nothing wrong but have been fired can file a wrongful termination lawsuit. If successful, the legal action can bring reimbursement for wages, possible reinstatement and compensation for damages.

Source:, "McDonald's worker fired after paying for food donation," Lou Raguse, Feb. 18, 2014

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