But fair.

This is the letter sent by a hard-hearted boss sacking a cleaner for eating a leftover tuna sandwich.

Single mother Gabriela Rodriguez was fired after she munched on the £1.50 Tesco sandwich left out on a discarded platter for workers at a City law firm.

Now she is claiming for unfair dismissal against the cleaning firm which employed her.

There is the usual campaign going on and the boss is being made to look a heartless bastard. Of course, he might be. However, the facts are that she took food without permission, so it’s theft. Most employers treat theft seriously enough to dismiss the individual concerned. It might seem trivial; a discarded sandwich, and another person might have let her off with a warning – I probably would, given her explanation. However, the ultimate sanction of dismissal is perfectly valid. I don’t see her winning this one.


  1. Our company has the policy that if we eat the residents food we are stealing from them. Agreed if we took food before them or left them with nothing. Bit ridiculous when the company would rather we throw waste food in the bin rather than let staff eat it. Mind you it doesn’t count on Sundays when staff get a roast dinner, management doesn’t know, or staff munching through all the biscuits in the cupboard. Normally in a care setting if you work a 12 hour shift you get a dinner, use to at our place but bosses decided it was costing them to much.
    A warning would have been adequate as she was stealing from the bin.

      • Have you tried employing local talent? I do and it’s not as easy as you think. Mostly I think it is because over a certain number of hours (16 I think), it makes no financial sense if being a loser is your thing (and it’s a thing for many people), as you start to lose benefits.

        I’ve done the local job centre “job fair” as an employer, and out of 15 (allegedly) interested people, I got precisely zero who followed up.

        We can blame johnny foreigner all we want but they’re not the ones who’ve created the problem.

  2. A City Law Firm?
    Come on.
    Obviously the value of the purloined item was not big enough to be worth claiming a percentage of.
    This cleaner should be getting onto GoFundMe and getting the case to a jury.
    All names should be revealed together with a representative sample of the stolen item. Obviously, unless she regurgitated it in front of the injured party, the original morsel is gone.
    Then he/she/it will be found guilty, and unless a person with mental issues, all the other usual stabber excuses, be sentenced.
    A book contract with follow on TV drama, and with a bit of luck, a musical will result.
    In future, all cleaners should be instructed to leave all mouldy leftovers where they are.
    Unless the residue contains fish. In which case it should be taped underneath the table top. Not stealing.

      • The story says, ‘She was dismissed by Total Clean but the law firm should not have complained in the first place.’

        • A spokesman said: ‘Devonshires did not make a formal complaint against Gabriela and expressly told Total Clean not to take any against her.

          ‘Total Clean carried out their own investigation and the decision to dismiss Gabriela was taken without any input or influence from Devonshires whatsoever.

          ‘This is a private matter between Total Clean and Gabriela but we have made clear to Total Clean that we would not object, as we never have done, to Gabriela attending and working on our premises if Total Clean changes its position.’

          I don’t know who complained, but Devonshires are saying it wasn’t them.

          • I retract my comment. Yes I know anything on the Interweb is forever. Thank you LR for clarification.

  3. The boss was defending his company’s reputation as a honest cleaning contractor. Cleaners have unsupervised access to all manner of potentially attractive items when cleaning offices, the simple ‘no theft’ rule is vital to prevent things being ‘liberated’ – it’s not feasible to discriminate between different items, so treat them all the same.
    None of his other cleaners will filch anything now. Job done.

    The bigger issue is that she came all the way from South America (via Spain) to do that job – there are currently millions locally on welfare who could have done it, but they don’t, so why not?

  4. Yep – a private company has a reputation to uphold, and so they are going to be super-strict, because when a scapegoat is needed, they’re it. She got to be the example to the others.

    I work for a government institution, and our cleaners are in-house, so government employees and impossible to sack. Stuff walks out of my office overnight (and has), and no one dares say it might have been the cleaning staff. Because St George Floyd or something.

  5. No. There was no need to dismiss her and some common sense should have been applied. Our company leaves food left over from meetings for the other staff to eat and we would never dream of implying that the contract cleaners do not count as staff.
    The company that left out the food also said they didn’t have a problem with it. The media are going to turn this into a massive PR issue and the only thing the law firm can reasonably do now is publicly sever ties with this cleaning company.
    Taking food that is otherwise going to be binned, is not theft and there was no reason or excuse to sack this person

    • As I mentioned in my post, personally, I’d have just given a warning. However, they are within their rights to dismiss her and I doubt any claim of unfair dismissal will be upheld. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you – even if it is otherwise going to be binned – is still theft.

      • They may be technically within their rights, but it still a long stretch and couldn’t possibly be seen as ‘right’.
        As for the theft, it’s unlikely to be seen as such under the law. If someone has thrown something out and given up owenership of it, taking it is not theft. Which may be why they only dismissed her and didn’t involve the law

        • I wouldn’t have expected them to involve the law anyway unless it was serious theft. That would be more trouble than it’s worth. As for the reasoning here, there are a lot of people who collect railway memorabilia as old signal boxes and such are decommissioned. On the one hand, they are preserving historical artefacts for future generations. However, they are stealing and if caught doing it could get prosecuted – see also, old railway sleepers. If it doesn’t belong to you and you are taking it without consent, it’s theft. Yes, even if it is a discarded sandwich. That it is trivial doesn’t change the principle. The business is making sure that the ground rules are clear here. As I’ve already said, I do think dismissal is harsh, but they have the right to do so.

          • Taking railway memorabilia from the railway, assumes the railway have not discarded it and given up ownership. If something is in a bin (or going there), it’s not classed as theft under the law
            It may be against whatever rules the company has in place, but it isn’t theft

  6. To be fair, she could easily find cleaning jobs whilst being her own boss. They get paid the same as an artic lorry driver these days.

    It could probably have been handled better but theft is theft. However, since we live in a socialist country, it’s going to be the “horrible boss” versus “sweet employee” narrative.

  7. Sod me, the usual suspects walk out of shops with their knickers shirts whatever stuffed with filched goods and no bugger bats an eyelid.
    Some woman’s eaten a left over sarnie and got the boot.

    I keep saying i’ve heard it all now, but sure enough ten minutes later the lunatics never fail to provide.

    • The fact that the authorities, and I use the word loosely, do not do their jobs does not mean that a private business can’t apply its rules.

  8. Yep, technically correct, but a tad Draconian. In my old lab, stuff went missing on a regular basis and the cleaner was generally the suspect. But without proof…. Had to lock up the loo roll in the end. Reminded folk to stop leaving their shit out, but they still did- stupid scientists. The solution: employ honest cleaners only. Why am I writing in this stilted, staccato style.

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