March 17, 2009

Whole Foods - kerfuffle over a tuna sandwich

Not cool at all — from the New York Times:

Fired Over a Tuna Sandwich, and Fighting Back
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.

And Mr. Reese's side of the story:

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.

Mr. Reese had worked at Whole Foods for two years. He had transferred to the deli department from the grocery department, where his previous supervisor had allowed employees to take damaged food. “They can’t sell them,” Mr. Reese said. “They can only write them off as a loss. That is why they throw them out. That is why they don’t mind giving it to us.”

It's one thing to fire someone but to do so in a way that blocks them from getting unemployment insurance is downright vindictive, especially in today's job market.

It is not as though Reese was a flake either — he had been employed by them for two years.

Posted by DaveH at March 17, 2009 10:22 AM | TrackBack
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