A McDonald's worker was fired last week after her managers said she "opened a whole bee's nest" by paying for the breakfast of a group of first responder firefighters.
Heather Levia, a single mother of twins who's putting herself through nursing school, has been working at the McDonald's in Olean, N.Y., for the last eight years. The 23-year-old told WIVB.com she was just trying to show her appreciation
for the group of firefighters who stopped in the fast-food restaurant last week on their way home from battling a blaze in sub-zero temperatures.
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Levia paid $83 of her own money to treat the first responders to 25 breakfast sandwiches and hash browns. Later on in her shift, another group of firefighters called in a $70 order. Out of money, Levia texted her boss to ask if she could comp the meals.
When her boss said no, Levia called the McDonald's corporate office but was again shot down. She and her fellow employees were able to pull enough money between themselves to cover the order.
Some of the firefighters then reportedly called and complained to the corporate office because they felt Levia had been pressured by the company to pay for their meals.
When she was confronted at her next shift, she was promptly fired for "swearing" at her superiors.
"I did say this is 'freaking' ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody," Levia told WIVB.
Tom Meyers, the owner of the Olean McDonald's, issued a statement about Levia's firing.
"We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination," he said. "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 firefighters who received the free meal also commented on the situation.
"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," Allegany Fire Media Officer Gordon Scott told WIVB.com. "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."
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