The sale of Girl Scout cookies has become a national institution. Just like the return of Minnesota Twins baseball, blooming flowers, and March Madness, offerings of Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Dosidos are very common during spring. Those who are reading this post have probably purchased a box from young scouts strategically positioned outside a grocery store, or from an office mate who wants to support their child.
So selling Girl Scout cookies at work should be okay, right? Apparently not.
A Washington, D.C. woman was fired after selling cookies while working at a Bon Appetit outlet on the campus of American University. The Minneapolis based company provides catering services to colleges and corporations across the country. It termed the woman’s actions as “gross misconduct” since she was “soliciting and operating a personal cash business while on the job.”
The woman, who had been an employee with Bon Appetit for 12 years, explained that she was not trying to compete with the company’s offerings, and only sold the cookies when customers asked about them. In her years at American, she had apparently developed a clientele who actively sought the treats every spring. Ironically, only Girl Scouts of America profits from the cookie sales, so there may be a question as to whether the woman was actually violating company policy.
Nevertheless, employment at venues such as Bon Appetit is commonly on an at-will basis, meaning that an employer may fire an employee at any time (and for any reason) just as long as it is not an illegal reason. However, firings like this may suggest that pretext was used to mask a discriminatory reason for the termination.
If you have questions about the propriety of your termination, an experienced employment law attorney can help.
Source: WBRC.com, Cookie crumbles wrong way for Girl Scout mom, March 21, 2013