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McDonald's staff member sacked over portions has case settled; BOSSES CLAIMED TEEN GAVE AWAY FOOD WITHOUT PAYMENT.

Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON Chief Reporter

A MCDONALD'S crew member sacked for sprinkling too many chocolate pieces on a McFlurry has had her case settled - days before her claim for unfair dismissal was due to be heard by a tribunal.

Sarah Finch, 19, says she was asked to "make it a nice one" by a colleague who was paying for the frozen yoghurt dessert. But bosses at the McDonald's outlet in Llangunnor, near Carmarthen, took exception to her generosity, and accused Ms Finch of giving away food without payment.

The restaurant is one of a number of McDonald's outlets run by a franchise company called Lonetree, whose managing director Ron Mounsey backed his managers' decision to sack Ms Finch, which he said was in accordance with company policy. She had worked for the firm for more than 18 months and was regarded as an "exceptional" employee.

In her application to the employment tribunal, Ms Finch, who lives in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, wrote: "I was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct. I was accused of stealing food. However the matter was trivial, in that I provided a fellow employee, who was purchasing a dessert, a generous sprinkling of chocolate pieces.

"There is no standard for such measures, and they are always imprecise, and will vary among customers.

"My colleague had asked me to 'make it a nice one', and so the measure I gave erred on the side of more than, rather than less than, the mean.

"The issue was that I had done this in response to a specific request for someone I actually knew.

"Had it not been in response to a request, or it was someone I did not know, then I do not believe there would have been even a warning.

"It is common practice, for example, for managers to give away food to disgruntled customers."

According to her claim to the tribunal, she was paid an average of PS180 a week for between 30 to 35 hours work in a shift pattern.

Ms Finch's formal work appraisals showed she was placed in the highest category of employees for exceptional performance, far exceeding the job requirements. Comments by managers in the appraisals included: "You are very polite and friendly to all customers, even when they can be trying. Your smile is very welcoming."

Another said: "Sarah - you have worked hard and your positive friendly attitude has been recognised. On drive-thru you are very adaptable."

In a letter to Ms Finch's mother, who was representing her, Lonetree managing director Ron Mounsey wrote: "I am aware of the circumstances of your daughter's dismissal, where she has admitted giving away food to someone without receiving payment.

"This is classed as gross misconduct as per my employee handbook, the consequences is dismissal.

"My managers acted correctly according to my policies and I fully uphold their decisions.

"They followed to the letter the disciplinary procedures of my company which should you be successful in taking my company to an employment tribunal will I'm confident be upheld.

"You may feel that it is trivial, but with 740 employees in my business then if my management team were just to overlook such incidents then quickly it would become a free for all.

"This is and always has been a dismissible offence in my business and there are reminder notices in every one of my staff rooms reminding employees of this policy as well as the employee handbook. Employees are aware of the risk they take should they decide to do this. This will continue to be the case."

A statement agreed by lawyers representing Ms Finch and Lonetree said: "Sarah Finch brought an unfair dismissal claim against Lonetree Ltd following her dismissal. With the assistance of Acas, this matter has now been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties and the Employment Tribunal case has been withdrawn.

"No admission of liability was made. It is a condition of the agreement between the parties that neither side will reveal the terms of the resolution or make any further comment on this case other than the release of this statement."


19-year-old Sarah Finch
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 18, 2012
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