A “crew member” is taking the fast-food giant McDonalds to an employment tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal after she was sacked for sprinkling too many pieces of chocolate on a McFlurry dessert.
Sarah Finch, aged 19 from Carmarthenshire, says that a colleague, who was purchasing the dessert, had asked her to “make it a nice one”.
However, her employers took exception to her generosity and accused her of giving food away for free. The restaurant is run by a franchise company called Lonetree, who operate a number of McDonalds restaurants. The Managing Director, Ron Mounsey, said the dismissal was within company policy and he backed his manager’s decision.
Ms Finch had worked for the franchise for over 18 months and was considered an “exceptional” employee. Her appraisals placed her in the highest category for employees and she was exceeding the job requirements.
In her application to the employment tribunal, Ms Finch explains: “I was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct. I was accused of stealing food. However the matter was trivial, in that I provided a fellow employee, who was purchasing a dessert, a generous sprinkling of chocolate pieces.
“There is no standard for such measures, and they are always imprecise, and will vary among customers. My colleague had asked me to ‘make it a nice one’, and so the measure I gave erred on the side of more than, rather than less than, the mean.
“The issue was that I had done this in response to a specific request for someone I actually knew. Had it not been in response to a request, or it was someone I did not know, then I do not believe there would have been even a warning.
“It is common practice, for example, for managers to give away food to disgruntled customers.”
Mr Mounsey wrote in a letter to Ms Finch’s mother, who is representing her: “I am aware of the circumstances of your daughter’s dismissal, where she has admitted giving away food to someone without receiving payment. This is classed as gross misconduct as per my employee handbook, the consequences is dismissal.
“This is and always has been a dismissable offence in my business and there are reminder notices in every one of my staff rooms reminding employees of this policy as well as the Employee Handbook. Employees are aware of the risk they take should they decide to do this. This will continue to be the case.”