Heather Levia, a 23-year-old McDonald’s manager from Olean, New York, claims she was fired over a kindhearted gesture. The 8-year employee was sacked, she alleges, because she paid a $153 tab, out of her own pocket, for local firefighters who had just battled a fire.
According to WIVB.com on Tuesday, Levia, a single mom with twins who works two jobs and is putting herself through nursing school, just wanted to provide a warm meal to the Allegany Fire Company.
When the firefighters walked in – in full gear as they had just put out a blaze in sub zero temps – Levia was moved to do something. She took out her purse, and paid for $83 worth of sandwiches herself.
"Just because I appreciate everything they do," she told WIVB.
A short time later, another group came in and ordered $70 worth of food. Levia wanted to treat the tireless first responders to the same level of big-hearted benevolence. She texted her boss to see if there was something McD’s could do. When the negative reply came back, she once again paid for the meal. Two other employees chipped in as well.
Instead of being hailed by the burger giant for her magnanimous gesture of kindness, she was kicked to the curb the following day.
According to WIVB, when “word spread that Levia paid the bill, some firefighters called her boss and complained, thinking the restaurant made Levia feel obligated to pay for their meals.”
Levia’s boss, Tom Meyers, allegedly told her, “You opened a whole bee’s nest,” and claims that during that discussion, she swore at him. That’s why she was fired, Meyers claims. Levia denies the allegation.
“I did say this is 'freaking' ridiculous, but it was not implied to anybody,” she told the Olean Times Herald.
Allegany firefighters are shocked that Levia’s compassion put her out of a job.
“It was a shock,” said Allegany Fire Media Officer Gordon Scott. “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.”
Levia added, “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.”
Levia, according to her Facebook post as shown above, said:
"Who would ever think that someone would lose their job for giving to those who risk their lives to save ours?"
Tom Meyers, on behalf of McDonald’s, issued the following 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.”