Anthea Harding, a 41-year-old mother who works at a Subway restaurant in Knightsbridge, London, was accused of stealing after being caught taking a half-eaten chicken and mushroom pie home.
Though Harding is allowed to eat some of the restaurant’s food, she was unaware she was not allowed to take it off the premises. Harding had eaten part of the pie for lunch and didn’t have time to finish it before the end of her shift.
Harding, who has been a team leader at Subway for 14 months, said she didn’t know about the take-home policy, noting that some of her colleagues have taken food home.
It’s not clear if the restaurant, which is located in a Harrods store, will fire Harding. Currently she is on suspension and will face disciplinary action.
“They took all my cards away -- my Harrods card, my ID store card,” Harding said. "I am a workaholic and have sat at home for a month. I can’t stand it. I don’t want to go and sign on; I just want to get back to work."
In a letter confirming Harding’s cancelled store approval, Harrods wrote, "A member of security checked your bag and then asked to check your apron. It is alleged that you concealed a box of food from the staff restaurant in your apron, you did not declare this item and did not pay for it.”
A Harrods spokesperson said, "While Ms Harding has worked within the Knightsbridge store, she is employed by our contractor, Eurest, which operates Harrods’ staff restaurant.
"We referred this matter to Eurest for their investigation, and they are handling it in line with their procedures. As part of our company policy, Harrods notified Ms Harding that her store approval has been removed pending this investigation.”
Thousands have signed a petition to reinstate Harding to her position.
“She earns £7.50 an hour and the free lunch is an important contribution to her wage,” the petition reads.