After eight years on the job, a former manager at an Olean, New York McDonald’s is now seeking employment. Heather Levia, a single mother who was working two jobs while putting herself through nursing school, says that a good deed landed her in hot water with her employer.
When a number of local firefighters stopped into McDonald’s after putting out a house fire in sub-zero temperatures and ordered 25 breakfast sandwiches and has browns, Levia decided to show her appreciation for them. She pulled $83 out of her pocket and paid for the first responders’ meals.
Later, firefighters from another department stopped in to order another $70 worth of food. Since the restaurant routinely provides free meals to local police, Levia decided to check if the owner would be willing to pick up the tab for the firefighters. However, she found that while police deserve free meals in the eyes of her employer, firefighters do not command quite the same reverence.
When her boss said “no,” Levia called the corporate officer and received the same answer. Undeterred, Levia and her coworkers picked up the tab. When word got out that Levia had paid the tab, some firefighters called her boss to complain, under the assumption that the restaurant made the single mother pay for their meals.
Levia says she was told, “You opened a whole bee’s nest.” After her next shift, she was terminated — allegedly, for swearing at a superior. However, if Levia is telling the truth the most she said was “this is freaking ridiculous.”
Levia doesn’t regret her gesture of goodwill, no matter how much she hates the results.
“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 Myers, the franchise owner, issued a statement denying that it holds firefighters in anything less than the highest regard and denying that Levia’s good deed had anything to do with her termination:
“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 is optimistic about moving on. She says she has received several job offers already.