A 19-year-old alleged he was fired after giving a veteran a free meal.
Alex Mesta, former employee at a Jack In The Box restaurant in Bakersfield, California, befriended a regular customer who happened to be a veteran. Mesta occasionally gave the man a free cup of coffee, which costs under a dollar.
"He's a vet and my family has veterans and I have much respect for them,” Mesta told Kern Golden Empire. "I mean they serve our country and it's the least I can do. There's so much more we can do but that's just a little bit."
Another customer ordered a couple of tacos and left them behind. As the veteran also was planning to order some tacos, Mesta gave them to the man.
"It was either throw them away or make them for him," Mesta told KERO.
A Facebook user has written a post about the incident that has been shared over 7,900 times.
"This young man was fired for giving away two [tacos] valued at $0.99 he offered to pay Jack in the Box back for them he said it was not right because they were going to throw them away anyways," Ortiz wrote. "This is a story that I feel the community needs to know you cannot punish this young man for doing what he felt was right in his heart."
Jack In The Box Corporate released a statement, explaining that the company values the military and the customer’s veteran status was not related to Mesta’s dismissal.
"We too are grateful to our veterans and to the men and women currently serving in the armed forces," the company stated. "Regarding this incident, while it would not be appropriate to provide complete details on an internal disciplinary issue, our actions in this case were not based on just one incident and had nothing to do with the guest's military experience."
Mesta alleged that this incident was the only reason he was fired.
"I was let go because of me giving out free food, basically," he said. "They didn't write down that it was for a vet. They just said I was mishandling products."
The 19-year-old stated the tacos and coffee were worth less than four dollars. He reportedly was not given a warning, but instead was fired after his shift on August 1.
"I know what I did wasn't right to them," Mesta said. "But to me it felt right."