McDonald’s manager: I was fired for paying firefighters’ meals

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A good deed may have gotten an Olean, New York, McDonald’s manager fired.

(HLNtv.com) — A single mother of twins says she was fired last week from her job as a McDonald’s manager in Olean, New York, after paying for the meals of several firefighters.

Heather Levia, 23, told HLN affiliate WIVB that she decided to take $83 from her own pocket to cover the cost of the 25 breakfast sandwiches “… because I appreciate everything they do.” The rescuers had just put out a house fire in subzero temperatures, she said.

When another fire department came in a little bit later and ordered $70 worth of food, Levia said she texted her boss and then called the corporate office to see if the company could cover the cost. But she was allegedly told no by both of them, even though she says they regularly pay for the meals of police officers.

Several of her co-workers decided to pitch in to cover the tab, according to WIVB. When word spread to the firefighters, Levia said, they called to complain to her boss because they thought the fast-food restaurant made her feel obligated to pay with her own money.

Levia said she was fired after her next shift. The reason she said her boss gave was that she cursed at a superior. Levia denied the claim, explaining to WIVB that “I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody.”

When reached by HLN, the local McDonald’s restaurant denied Levia’s allegations.

“We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination,” the restaurant said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The statement, which was sent on behalf of owner/operator Tom Meyers, also said that the 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.”

The Allegany County Fire Department told WIVB that it was thankful for the gesture and that firefighters never expect free meals.

“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,” Gordon Scott, the media officer for the Allegany Fire Department, told WIVB. “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.”

Levia, who said she has already received several job offers after working eight years at McDonald’s, says the fast-food chain wrongly terminated her.

“I wish the communities would change and help each other out,” she told WIVB. “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.”

11 comments

  • CJpere

    I'm not going back to Mcdonalds until she gets her job back and I'm sure I can get a few of my friends to join in.

  • huuf

    call the company and vent bigtime!

    T. Meyers Enterprises Inc
    (716) 665-3434
    6 N Alberta St
    Falconer, NY 14733

    When I called the above number, their automated voice system answered with "Thank you for calling McDonald's." So I knew I had the right place. I left a message for Tom Meyers x229 and you should too!

  • maria alvarez

    I think that what they do it to this lady is not right because she was doing a good deed and she pay for the food so that bull shit what they did to her .give her her job back time are hard and she has a family. …have a heart the same way she did with the firefighter….god bless u mrs….

  • Sarah

    Why was the McDonald's covering the cost of the police officers' meals in the first place (and then didn't cover the firefighters)? Considering that the police aren't supposed to take any gifts … but the trust we place in firefighters doesn't require us to be concerned about potential bribes … I'd think it should be the other way around.

  • Lujo

    are you people serious??? Explain to me how it is justified for Police to get free food and why? Are they not paid? This whole story sucks all the way around and what is the biggest crap of it all is some poor girl on a crap salary lost her crappy job for guys with a career, good salary and a benefits with a pension. She took the hit and no one put their arms out to catch her. I won't eat at Mc Donalds until they hire her back???? seriously??? people shouldn't be eating there to begin with for so much worse.This country is so screwed.

  • flatironsRock

    Another corporate schmuck sticking it to his employees. This time for doing not only what is honorable and heart-warming but for asking the corporation for doing that same.

    "Several of her co-workers decided to pitch in to cover the tab, according to WIVB. When word spread to the firefighters, Levia said, they called to complain to her boss because they thought the fast-food restaurant made her feel obligated to pay with her own money."

    The employees (whom I would venture to guess make much less than $30,000 a year) opened their wallets and hearts while McDo owner Tom Meyer pushed Heather Levia out the door. Talk about what's wrong with this country.

    My goodness! People, when are we going to stand up for ourselves, our communities, our values? Time to kick this corporation out (as well as its pathetic owner).

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