Last week one of my supervisors gave me heads up that another supervisor reported me to HR for taking food and hiding it on my work station to take home. I work in a nursing home and this was food that was going to be thrown out. The policy of not eating/taking left overs home has always been unclear since other co workers openly do this on a daily basis with no consequence.

Finally a week later my manager pulled in the office along with union rep, I explained that the food was offered to me and other co workers also took the food, and that I ate the food later on my break. According to them, CCTV clearly shows me hiding the food. But I can argue against this to my manager because when we had a meeting, she told us we can eat but not in front of the cameras. So we where not explicitly told that we cannot eat at all.

Anyway, they told me that they will submit what I said to HR and HR will schedule a disciplinary meeting sometime next week. I'm afraid to lose my job because I recently got written up over parking on the wrong spot, something unrelated to job performance. I've been with the company for 7 years.

Does HR meeting = fired?

  • 3
    Adding some information about your location may help as employment laws vary from place to place. Certainly, where I am (Australia) it would seem very unlikely that an employee of seven years standing would be sacked on the spot for something like that, but elsewhere you might not be so lucky. Feb 27 '19 at 1:55
  • 1
    @MatthewBarber I've worked in a hospital in Australia and I can tell you this is precisely the kind of petty thing they will investigate and waste taxpayers money on. They rarely fire people in NSW Health (there's the old joke no one gets fired) as you need to get two identical written warnings for the same offense within 6 months to be considered for dismissal. The only exception is if management dont follow policy or if the employee did something really bad (ie steal). But private nursing homes do whatever they want.
    – solarflare
    Feb 27 '19 at 3:10
  • VtC as too broad. With the information given, we cannot predict the future any better than you and wild speculation on what may or may not happen does not make a good answer.
    – nvoigt
    Feb 27 '19 at 6:09
  • Possible duplicate of My manager tells me i have HR meeting tomorrow
    – Sam Hanley
    Feb 27 '19 at 15:22

It’s certainly within the realm of possibility but probably not likely, especially if you’ve generally gotten positive feedback about your performance in the past. If they were planning to give you the sack, they’d likely want it done as soon as possible rather than setting up a meeting a week in advance. It could be they want to give you a chance to plead your case before deciding what action to take.

It would be a different story if there was a clear rule and you violated it with impunity, but the way you describe it, it sounds like a somewhat murky situation. You should be prepared to explain what was actually happening in the video where they claim it looked like you were hiding the food. Per @Malisbad 's comment, you should also bring up in the meeting that the behavior you're being cited for is an everyday occurrence among staff. If there is sufficient evidence that rules are being selectively enforced, depending on your location, you may also be able to make a legal case against the company in the event you are fired.

Regardless, it would be prudent to prepare for the worst. Update your resume and start looking into other opportunities. It’s always good to have a backup plan in place.

  • 2
    It's also important to document that this is typical behaviour for staff, and that it has not be met out with punishment. Established behaviourial norms within a company can't be used to selectively terminate people whenever they decide it is convenient. Right to work states might mess with that, however, they could have a case and should speak with a lawyer if they are terminated.
    – Malisbad
    Feb 27 '19 at 2:52
  • 2
    Backup plan plus one, but it may be a good time to move on if the management are like that - have they changed over the 7 years...
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 27 '19 at 6:23

We used to joke about the time this meetings would happen, if it was on any day other than Friday and any time it would be fine. If the meeting is scheduled at end of day on a Friday I would be concerned about it.

Even though this was done in a joking manner, it was due to the fact that we handled sensitive data and being told you are fired with immediate effect is not something they want to do on a Monday and have you contact them through the week.

Just ensure you have someone from the Union with you. Gather evidence, any email you have where you have been told that you shouldn't eat where the cameras are, anyone that has been told that it is ok for them to take food. Try to obtain written statements signed, do not throw other employees who are doing it under the bus but try and obtain mitigating evidence. However, do not worry about presenting this evidence unless needed. Do not admit to anything other than what is evident. If they mention the presence of CCTV footage, request a copy of it and request to view it on the spot if possible, cross reference time on the footage with for example, lunch time, if the time in the footage is, say at 13:26 and lunch starts at 12:30 then this would be evidence you were taking the left-overs as it was at the end of lunch time and not beginning, however if they have footage of you at 13:26 when lunch starts at 13:30 it would be difficult to argue that you are taking left-overs.

I would definitely start looking for alternatives, better to jump before being made to jump...

  • thanks for insights. that said, I took the food at 1:pm and my lunch wasn't until 4:00pm. so idk. I will definitely start applying other jobs
    – Jenny99
    Feb 28 '19 at 0:11
  • 1
    @Jenny99 please remember to upvote any answers that are helpful. It doesn't matter when your lunchtime was but the service user's. if it is to be declared as stealing food over taking left-overs, that is the difference that needs to be made. If you did eat during your lunch break then they would have footage of you taking the food or at least of you visiting the locker during your lunchtime which means they could not undeniable prove that you had stolen something to take home (if that was the real issue) Feb 28 '19 at 11:18

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