A month ago, I was at my mechanic’s garage to have some work done on my car. He happened to have Girl Scout Cookies on display. He asked if I wanted to by some. I told him that I already bought some from a neighbor. He said, I can get to your car faster if you buy some cookies. Ha! Ha! Good one Joe. I should have taken him up on the offer, because in less than a day the two boxes of cookies were gone. I have a preteen son who eats like a teenager.
This morning I came across this article about a woman who was fired (or as my British friends would say “got the sack”) because she was selling Girl Scout Cookies at work. It appears that she worked at American University’s Campus for a company called Bon Appétit. The employee worked on the campus for 28 years and for Bon Appétit for 12 years. Over the last three years, she displayed the Girl Scout Cookies to help her daughter. This year, Bon Appétit decided to fire her. The manager accused her of “gross misconduct by soliciting and operating a personal cash business selling girl scout cookies over the counter which violates company policy.”
I am not sure about you, but I feel bad for the employee. She was not doing this for profit. She was helping the Girl Scout, and her daughter by selling cookies. Was the sale of Girl Scout Cookies really a conflict of interest? Would a boxes send Bon Appétit into bankruptcy court? To be clear, how many times have you seen parents bring fundraiser items for their children to work – cookies, popcorn, candles, etc. Too bad there is no avenue by which she could sue.
Unfortunately, the at-will doctrine favors the employer. Paraphrased the doctrine says, an employer can terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all. I understand there are some that say she should have been fired, and only kids, not their parents should be selling Girl Scout Cookies. Realistically, in virtually every city across the country there is little doubt that these sales are going on in the workplace. Perhaps today many will say bad things about Bon Appétit. Months from now, however, Bon Appetite’s arguably unfair position will be forgotten and the employee will still be out of work.
If you have questions about the at-will doctrine, wrongful termination or other employment law issues, call Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.