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View Full Version : Fired Over a Tuna Sandwich, and Fighting Back



PoliCon
03-17-2009, 01:04 PM
Whole Foods fired Ralph Reese for taking a tuna fish sandwich. But was it misconduct? It is a question that matters. Anyone fired for misconduct is denied unemployment benefits.

Whole Foods argued that Mr. Reese, 57, of Queens, tried to steal a sandwich by taking it from the trash at the end of his shift as a deli clerk at the Union Square Whole Foods on Nov. 9. The company’s policy is that food cannot be taken without being paid for, though employees receive a 20 percent discount.

“I cannot comment specifically on this case, on this person, and the conditions of his employment by Whole Foods,” said Libba Letton, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods. But she did say, “Whole Foods Markets has a program that team members are encouraged to try our different products.”

She said the program helps the employees learn more about the products so they can be of more help to customers. But there is a defined procedure, she said: They must ask their supervisor, the food is logged and accounted for, and the servings are typically sample-size.

“Any variation from this procedure would be taken very seriously,” Ms. Letton said.

Initially, New York State ruled that the tuna sandwich episode was misconduct, based on Whole Foods’ statement about the trash. In New York, as in other states, employers’ unemployment insurance rates are based on the amount of the benefits their former workers collect [pdf] — giving them an incentive to limit the number of employees who receive unemployment.

Mr. Reese challenged the ruling in January. “I knew what they said was wrong,” said Mr. Reese, who earned $11.50 an hour.

His version of the story: He was throwing out 30 sandwiches at the end of the shift, and he put the tuna sandwich aside on the counter in plain view. When the supervisor confronted him about it, he said it was going to be thrown out and he was going to eat it.

The supervisor then threw the sandwich out.

Two days later, Mr. Reese was fired.

CONTINUED (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/fired-over-a-tuna-sandwich-and-fighting-back/) Damn dirty hippies!:mad:

noonwitch
03-18-2009, 08:39 AM
Every restaurant I ever worked at let us take food home that couldn't be sold-baked goods have to be sold the day they're made, for the most part.

I haven't worked in a restaurant or store in a very long time, though. Whole Foods might have a deal with Second Harvest or one of the other food giveaway programs for the poor, and that might be why they have the rule-except those agencies don't usually take prepared sandwiches, they take day-old bread and canned goods.

enslaved1
03-20-2009, 02:30 PM
Every restaurant I ever worked at let us take food home that couldn't be sold-baked goods have to be sold the day they're made, for the most part.

I haven't worked in a restaurant or store in a very long time, though. Whole Foods might have a deal with Second Harvest or one of the other food giveaway programs for the poor, and that might be why they have the rule-except those agencies don't usually take prepared sandwiches, they take day-old bread and canned goods.

My experience has been the exact opposite, because if employees could (myself included at most of the points I've worked food service), there would be a mysterious rush to cook food towards the end of the night. Even the packing plant I worked in specifically stated that there would be no eating of the meat in the plant. There were sterilizers for knives and equipment that were just boiling water, and evidently there had been issues with employees tossing chunks of meat in the sterilizers and digging out a boiled snack.

Having said all that, I think it is ridiculous that so much food is just tossed out of restaurants at the end of the night. There is no good reason not to send it to a homeless shelter or let the employees get a little perk. How to keep employees from taking ridiculous advantage of the generosity, if the food is offered to them is always the issue there.