The Italian Almanac

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French fries

Fired for Charity

A McDonald's worker who was fired for giving free French fries to a poor immigrant boy has lost a court case against the company. The woman lost her job at a Turin franchise of the American fast food chain in 2001 after giving away a bag of French fries and a cup of Coca Cola to a young immigrant who was selling cigarette lighters outside the shop.

The 50-year-old mother of one is now suing the restaurant for unfair dismissal and is seeking 20,000 euros in damages. The case finally came to court but the judges ruled against her. The woman, who has said she will appeal the ruling, argued that she was entitled to the meal under her contract but had decided to give it away to the youth. "I wasn't hungry and didn't feel like eating, so I decided to give it to the lad," she told the court.

But the company maintained she had taken the food during her shift, not before or after as required by contract, and that she should have recorded the transaction with a zero balance receipt. It said that her failure to do this could have caused serious problems with the taxman. "She gave away a company asset, a very serious act which could have cost the firm its franchising licence.

Also, under the tax law, shops can be fined for not issuing receipts... It was an act of charity but charity administered with other people's goods," the company's lawyer told the court.