Mom Fired For Selling Girl Scout Cookies At Work

Girl Scout cookiesLike many parents, Tracy Lewis wanted to support her daughter's sales of Girl Scout cookies. So Lewis set up a display of Thin Mints at a convenience store operated by Bon Appetit on the American University campus, where she worked in food services for 30 years. But then without warning, she claims, her boss fired her last month for "gross misconduct by soliciting" and "operating a personal cash business," reports MyFoxDC.com.

Lewis, a single mother, claims that she's been selling cookies at work for three years for her daughter's Girl Scout troop at the campus convenience store. "I had the cookies on a cart, and I would never ask anyone to buy them," she told MYFoxDC. "But, if they wanted to buy some I would sell them."

But according to the termination letter that she was given by her Bon Appetit manager, Lewis' swift trade in Girl Scout cookies "violates company policy." (Bon Appetit declined to comment, telling the TV station that "employee relations information is confidential.")

More: 7 Ways You Can Be Fired For Your Appearance

Firing a person, without warning, for raising money for a cause might seem unjust. But it's perfectly legal.

"Every state and D.C., except Montana, is an at-will state," explains employment law attorney and AOL contributor Donna Ballman. "They can fire her because they don't like Girl Scout cookies, or they don't like Girl Scouts, or they don't like the color green. They can fire her because they don't like Thin Mints, although that would be crazy."

Many companies, she says, have rules against soliciting donations from co-workers, "for the obvious reason that it's disruptive at work and people get tired of being pestered."

But there can be other reasons too, such as in the case of 36-year-old waitress Stacey Fearnall, who was fired in 2008 after she shaved her head to raise money for a local cancer charity. An employment lawyer noted that Fearnall would have been able to claim sex discrimination, if bald men were allowed to work in the restaurant.

Lewis couldn't make the same case -- unless, that is, Bon Apetit let its employees sell candy bars for the Boy Scouts.

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kaza812

My goodness...I remember back in the day ( the 60's) Brownie's and Girl Scouts would actually go Door To Door to people's houses to sell GS Cookies....and canned nuts....can't do that anymore....so if your parents or guardians don't help you ...you're S**t out of luck.....On the other hand...No she should not have been selling anything at all....she was Supposed To Be Doing Her Job...simple as that....though I don't think a warning would have been too much to ask of an employer after so many years of service.

May 04 2013 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
anndm7

A Dallas/Ft.Worth Airport Security Officer was selling Girl Scout Cookies in the Main Security Entrance to the Airport. Admitted, it was a couple of years ago...It was way after 9/11. People who are good workers never get the jobs....only the dummies survive.

May 04 2013 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Blanche

It's unfortunate that she lost her job that she has had for 30 years, but I can see how it would be a conflict of interest for someone to sell food stuff in a place that sells snacks and things. What was she thinking? I wonder why the company took such a hard line. I would think that a warning would.ve been sufficient if this was her first offense.

March 26 2013 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
o5419069

Perhaps a prior warning would have helped before firing. Probably not. In my experience people who do this are pretty hardened to objections. I always hated the "cookie and candy bar and popcorn season". The stuff is greatly over-priced. Most employees do not have a lot, if any, of extra money to spend. It is clearly exploitation of fellow employees and flies in the face of the reasons for having the children do the selling. If you do not buy you are a jerk. I am retired and do not miss this one bit.

March 26 2013 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LINDA

she should be fired. she was on company time. no excuses...she is paid to do a job, not anything else.

March 26 2013 at 7:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rfirefly

The whole gs cookie thing has gotten so out of hand. Its getting so competitive because its how they get their money for the troop to do extra activities - or any activities at all. But now they compete with the endless PTA fundraisers, sports fundraisers and even just general school fundraisers. Its becoming so crazy it might violate child labor laws.

This lady didn't have the kids do the selling, but she was supposed to. She was also supposed to only display them and offer them for sale at specified stores and specified times. I think they set up that way to avoid problems like this.

March 26 2013 at 7:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pete

It shouldn't be the parents selling the stuff anyway. It should be the girl scout selling them.

March 26 2013 at 7:29 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Sammy

Why didn't her boss just tell her she was no longer allowed to sell the cookies? Why fire her without warning?

March 26 2013 at 3:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Sammy's comment
Bruce

They may have had other issues with her and decided this was a good excuse.

March 26 2013 at 7:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bruce's comment
o5419069

You may be right. They may have been waiting for a more easily- defensible issue. We don't know but it is a common thing in the workplace.

March 26 2013 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
o5419069

Having been a claims supervisor for years I will tell you why. She already knew the rules. She was flaunting them. If you get into the "warning" phase you really get into a mess. It takes a long time and takes up a lot of your time. It disrupts the workplace. If you are going to "get into it" anyway, at least get the person out the door so other employees will have minimum distraction and can get some work done. See, this is basically office bullying. Get the bully out and deal with the bully outside the work place. In this case the employee was using company assets to promote a "side business". It amounts to dishonesty. Employee dishonest must be dealt with quickly and decisively. I agree this took too long.

March 26 2013 at 8:58 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
pacrowderholyoke

She was in direct competition with her employer's products, and you can't tell me she didn't know that to begin with. If she'd been working in an office or clothing store or a tire repair shop, then it most likely would have been okay. But she was in direct competition by selling food that did NOT benefit her employer at her employer's place of business, and I'd bet actually COST him money in lost sales of HIS products.

March 26 2013 at 3:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to pacrowderholyoke's comment
DavidS

It is the litle things at work that get you fired. Why is this news worthy? People get fired everyday.

March 26 2013 at 2:41 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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