Should Eating Food Out Of The Trash At Work Be Grounds For Termination?

A 21-year-old barista who worked at a downtown Seattle Starbucks claims he was fired for taking a sandwich out of the trash and eating it. He argues that since his employers were going to toss it anyway, why should he be punished for pulling it out of the garbage, especially when he hasn’t been working enough hours to pay his bills?

The former employee tells The Stranger that he hadn’t eaten all day and was on a seven-hour shift, so when a coworker threw out some breakfast sandwiches that were out of stock, he figured it’d be fine and dandy to grab one for himself.

“She said, ‘What a waste, huh?’” he explained. “And she tossed it in the garbage. I figured, it’s in plastic, it’s fine. So I reached in and grabbed it.”

It wasn’t fine, according to what he says his manager told him a week later: She’d heard of the sandwich incident and spoken to HR, and “they consider it stealing, and it’s against policy. So I’m sorry, but I have to terminate you.”

A Starbucks spokesman says he can’t comment on an individual employee because “it is a violation of our policy to consume marked-out products.” It’s not about stealing, either he adds: “We do not want our partners to consume potentially spoiled products and get sick.”

So could you get fired for breaking that policy? Not usually, said the spokesman, unless it was the culmination of a “broader, ongoing performance issue.”

The worker insists there were no such issues, and that he doesn’t believe the policy against eating out of the trash is about his own health, and not stealing.

What do you think?

Starbucks Fires Employee on Food Stamps for Eating a Sandwich from the Garbage [The Stranger]