A New York woman was fired from her job at McDonald’s last week after she and coworkers paid for the meals of on duty firefighters.
Heather Levia, 23, was working her morning shift as a manager at McDonald’s in Olean, New York when several firefighters came into the restaurant after putting out a house fire in sub-zero temperatures, according to WIVB News 4 Buffalo.
The Olean firefighters ordered $83 of breakfast sandwiches and hash browns and Levia decided to pay for it herself.
“Just because I appreciate everything they do,” Levia told WIVB.
Soon after Levia had paid for the firefighters’ meals, another department arrived and ordered $70 of food.
Levia, wanting to cover this tab too, sent a text message to her boss to see if the company would pay for it. She told WIVB she thought the company might because she claims they regularly give free meals to police officers who come in.
“It’s very common in our store,” said Levia.
However, Levia’s boss told her no, McDonald’s would not donate the food.
Levia then called the corporate office and they also told her no. So instead, Levia and coworkers picked up the tab again.
Word quickly spread that Levia had paid the firefighters bill. Some of the firefighters, thinking the restaurant had pressured Levia into paying the tab, called her boss and complained.
Levia told WIVB her boss then told her, “You opened a whole bee’s nest.”
The next morning, after eight years of working for McDonald’s, Levia was fired. She said the company told her the reason for her firing was she swore at a superior.
Levia denies these allegations, “I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody.”
The firefighters involved told WIVB they never expect free food and were grateful for the gesture.
“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,” said Allegany Fire Media Officer Gordon Scott.
Levia added by telling WIVB, “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, Tom Meyers, gave WIVB this statement:
“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.”
Since the incident Levia told WIVB she has already received several job offers.