OLEAN, NY (CNN) — A former McDonald’s worker in New York says her bosses fired her, for showing gratitude to firefighters.
During her morning shift as a manager at McDonald’s last week, while several local fire departments worked in sub-zero temperatures to put out a house fire, Heather Levia saw a way to help.
Olean firefighters ordered 25 breakfast sandwiches and hash browns, and heather says she pulled
83 dollars out of her pocket and paid for it herself.
“Just because I appreciate everything they do,” Heather Levia told CNN.
Then a little bit later, another department ordered another $70 worth of food.
So Heather texted her boss to see if the company would pay the tab. She thought they might, because she claims they regularly give free meals to police officers who stop by.
“It's very common in our store,” Levia explained.
Her boss said, no, they don't donate food. Heather called the corporate office and got the same answer.
So she and fellow workers again picked up the tab.
When word spread that heather paid the bill, some firefighters called her boss and complained, thinking the restaurant made heather feel obligated to pay for their meals.
“She said, you opened a whole bee's nest,” Levia said.
At her next shift, after 8 years of working for McDonald’s, Heather was fired. She says the reason given was she swore at a superior, something she denies.
“I did say this is freaking ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody,” Levia explained.
Allegany firefighter says they never expect free food, and were grateful for the gesture.
Gordon Scott, Allegany Fire Media Officer, told CNN:
“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. 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.”
Heather Levia said:
“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.”
Tom Meyers, the owner of the Olean Mcdonald's, gave 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."