Don’t Steal From Your Employer

Today there was a big debate on Facebook about a news story that Cracker Barrel fired an employee for giving a homeless vet a free muffin. Almost everyone on that thread wants to boycott Cracker Barrel for being heartless and not supporting our vets. Sorry, but not many businesses can allow employees to give away their products or services for free. Cracker Barrel has an excellent training program and goes to great lengths to make sure their employees do not pilfer from the restaurant. Be honest – it is basically stealing when you do that. He had been written up 5 times for doing this. I would have fired him, too. If he had paid for the muffin himself would be one thing, but stealing from your employer to “do good” is not OK.

Everything in that store costs money – even the little packets of mayo and sugar. It is the employee’s job to provide the product and collect money for it. One of the biggest problems retailers have is employee theft. You cannot allow employees to just take or give away whatever they want. Cracker Barrel will survive this PR issue just fine. They make good food, have unique gift shop items and are conveniently located across the U.S. They will not go out of business for firing a guy who was stealing from their company.

Cracker Barrel has a very thorough training program and clearly stated policies and procedures. Employees are not allowed to give away food or other products. They are allowed to pay for the food or products themselves and then give it away. But they are stealing if they give away anything for free.

I have worked for restaurants and bars and run several businesses. When I was a bartender at a free pour bar in DC, the boss would come in and actually count the number of liquor bottles in the trash and then tally numbers against the days receipts to make sure we were not over-pouring or giving away free drinks. 

My step daughter worked for a convenience store and was allowed to have all the free soda she wanted while on her shift. She could not have free soda if she was off her shift and could not give free soda to family or friends.

Have you ever asked for a cup of free water at McDonald’s? They tell you no, because they have to charge you for the cup. Now they charge you for extra dipping sauce and other condiments, too.

It would be nice if maybe the employers had a charitable policy of dedicating a certain amount they could allow to be given away to homeless people or customers in distress, but most do not. If you are going to work for somebody else, you have the obligation to look out for that employer’s best interests – and stealing from them is not the way to do that.