OLEAN, N.Y., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A former McDonald's restaurant employee in Olean, N.Y., says she was fired after picking up the tabs for several local fire departments.
Last week, Heather Levia, 23, paid an $83 bill for food ordered by several local fire departments who were working to put out a house fire in the area in sub-zero temperatures, WIVB-TV, Buffalo, N.Y., reported.
"Just because I appreciate everything they do," said Levia, a single mother and 8-year McDonald's employee.
Later in the day, another group of fire fighters came in to her McDonald's and ordered $70 worth of food. Levia called her boss to ask if the company could cover the cost, noting that it was regular practice to give police officers who came in free meals.
"It's very common in our store," she said.
However, Levia was told no by the store owner and again by the corporate office, so she and several coworkers decided to pay for the firefighters' food out of pocket.
When word spread that Levia had paid the bill, some firefighters called her boss to complain, alleging that Levia felt obligated to pay for them.
The next day, Levia was fired. She was told she was let go because she swore at a superior.
"I did say this is 'freaking' ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody," she said.
Tom Meyers, the owner of the Olean McDonald's, issued the statement: "The Meyers Organization has always valued the employees who serve our customers every day. We likewise continue to be an ardent supporter of our police and fire departments, along with other first responders. They are always welcome in our restaurants, and we will continue to support them in the future.
"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."
Levia said since she lost her job, she has received several job offers.