HR dilemma: Good deed vs company rules

by Janie Smith30 Jul 2014
If an employee breaks the company rules by doing what they consider to be a good deed, would you take disciplinary action?

US worker Joe Koblenzer, 73, was fired from his job as host at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant in Florida for giving a man he thought was homeless a free corn muffin.

According to an article on, the Vietnam veteran told Fox News that the man asked him for mayonnaise and tartare sauce because he was planning to cook fish, so Koblenzer decided to add a free muffin.

He said he understood why he was fired, but he was not sorry and would do the same thing again.

“It’s a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule. I completely forgot about it. I am a host at Cracker Barrel with a little above minimum wage job,” he was quoted as saying.

He said that he had been reprimanded for drinking from a water fountain while on duty and for giving a woman a free cup of coffee, but he disputed it and said the woman paid for the drink.

According to the article, the company claimed that the incident was the fifth time Koblenzer had violated his contract by breaching the company policy on consuming food without paying or giving away free food.

“Mr Koblenzer received multiple counsellings and written warnings reminding him about the company’s policies and the consequences associated with violating them. On the fifth occasion, again per company policy, Mr Koblenzer was terminated,” said the company.

Koblenzer told Fox News it was worth it and that there was a moral issue involved. He said that if the company had asked him to pay for the muffin, he would have.

How would you deal with an employee like Koblenzer?


  • by Amanda Rochford 30/07/2014 12:08:03 PM

    This is not a noble action by the employee. The food was not his to give away. Making a charitable donation on behalf of the company without their consent is stealing. I the employee wants to make a charitable donation then he has to pay for it himself, and the company should not have to ask for the payment. Passive agressive behaviour any way you look at it.

  • by Suzanna Smith 30/07/2014 12:18:01 PM

    You are kidding me? Firing someone for giving away a measly muffin or a cup of coffee? And how much do they throw away at the end of the day because it hasn't been sold I wonder?

    If it was my company I would be developing a charity program to give away the unsold product and giving him the role of managing it ...

    That is a company without a heart.

  • by funergizers 30/07/2014 12:59:12 PM

    What a great opportunity to engage both employees and customers gone to waste. Each staff member could be given a weekly allowance where they could randomly donate an item to a customer who they would like to give to. Both staff and customer loyalty bound to go through the roof!

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