A 19-year-old Jack in the Box worker claims he was fired for giving a military veteran and regular customer two free tacos as a way to thank him for his service.
The tacos in question were evidently leftovers, and apparently were to have been thrown out anyway.
Alex Mesta, the graveyard-shift employee at the Bakersfield, California, fast-food restaurant, also admitted to giving the vet free coffee from time to time. “It’s not even a dollar for our coffee,” he noted.
The two tacos reportedly amounted to about one dollar. “But his actions were caught on store surveillance cameras—and someone from corporate wasn’t happy with what they saw. Mesta says he was fired from the job, which he’d held for two years,” Fox News reported.
The incident captured national attention after a Facebook user detailed what reportedly happened at the Jack in the Box restaurant in central California.
“… The young boy knew that this older man was a veteran and had great respect for him because the young boy felt a connection with the older man because his older brother is serving our country proudly… So every day this older gentleman came in for his cup of coffee $0.80 that is with a discount that Jack in the Box gives all servicemen and women… just so happen that somebody previously ordered two tacos and did not take them, so this 19-year-old boy offered them to the veteran and said it is not much but thank you for your service… This is a story that I feel the community needs to know you cannot punish this young man for doing what he felt was right in his heart…”
Jack in the Box employee fired for giving away free tacos to veteran. https://t.co/K72si5KExR
— Denver7 News (@DenverChannel) August 4, 2016
According to ABC affiliate KERO, the tacos plus coffee tab amounted to about $4.00, or maybe even much less than that, depending on which news agency has a fully accurate accounting.
Mesta says he was fired on Monday rather than issued a warning. Evidently, the worker reimbursed the company for the tacos, according to the Facebook posting.
The Jack in the Box corporate PR department issued a statement suggesting that there is more to the story, however.
“We too are grateful to our veterans and to the men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Regarding this incident, while it would not be appropriate to provide complete details on an internal disciplinary issue, our actions in this case were not based on just one incident and had nothing to do with the guest’s military experience.”
— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) August 4, 2016
“I was let go because of me giving out free food, basically. They didn’t write down that it was for a vet. They just said I was mishandling products,” Alex Mesta insisted, KGET Bakersfield reported.
There has been some limited chatter on social media about boycotting Jack in the Box as a result of the teen’s firing for gifting two tacos to a veteran.
In an unrelated development, Jack in the Box shares jumped about 7.5 percent after Wednesday’s closing bell. “Jack in the Box may have been boosted by its ownership of Mexican restaurant chain Qdoba, which is a chief rival of the struggling Chipotle restaurant chain,” CNBC explained. “Jack in the Box Inc. shares were looking tasty to investors this morning, flying higher after the company turned in better-than-expected results in its third-quarter earnings report,” the Motley Fool added.
Founded in 1951 and headquartered in San Diego since then, Jack in the Box operates about 2,000 restaurants primarily on the west coast of the U.S. and in certain urban areas on the east coast. The chain sells burgers in addition to tacos and other fast-food items.
Based on the facts as we know them at the moment, do you think that Jack in the Box was justified in terminating the teen for offering two free tacos to the veteran?
[Photo by Matt Marton/AP Images]