Alex Mesta, a former employee at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Bakersfield, California, says he was fired on Aug. 1 for giving two free tacos to a regular customer who is a military veteran.
Mesta, 19, occasionally gave that customer free coffee while working the graveyard shift, and “sometime within the last two weeks,” he gave the veteran two tacos that were going to be thrown out anyway, reports The Washington Post.
"It was either throw them away or make them for him," said Mesta, who claims he was caught on the company’s security camera giving away the delicious tacos in question, and was subsequently fired.
"I know what I did wasn't right to them," Mesta said. "But to me it felt right." Ethical questions aside, the story has since gone viral, with many commenters outraged the young employee was fired.
One commenter on Jack in the Box’s Facebook page said: “I’m a Veteran also and a business owner. So, I understand your reasoning but REALLY? For you I hope its worth the publicity. I give veterans free services all of the time. I just don’t think 2 tacos and a coffee is worth firing this young man.”
Another posted: “I will never go to jack in the box again after reading the story on your worker who was fired for giving two 99 cent tacos to a hungry veteran. That is what’s wrong with this country. Profits over people. Absolutely disgraceful.”
Ironically, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars took the restaurant’s side in the issue: “He did a nice thing for a veteran but knew beforehand that it was against company policy. Rules and good deeds on company time don’t always mix.”
So far, the episode has been a public relations nuisance for Jack in the Box, but it’s nothing compared to the restaurant’s 1993 E. coli disaster, in which the company’s hamburgers seriously sickened hundreds of customers, and killed four children, reports Food Safety News.