Cleaner sacked for eating leftover sandwich at London law firm | Trending - Hindustan Times

Cleaner sacked for eating leftover sandwich at London law firm

ByTrisha Sengupta
Feb 22, 2024 12:16 PM IST

Gabriela Rodriguez, employed at Total Clean, has been cleaning the offices of London-based law firm Devonshires Solicitors for two years.

A cleaner working for a law firm in London was fired after she ate a leftover sandwich. As per reports, she ate a £1.50 tuna sandwich that was left after a meeting. Her employer, Total Clean, a company hired to clean the law firm Devonshires Solicitors, fired her after an employee of the firm complained about her eating the food.

A cleaner is taking legal action against a law firm after being fired for eating a leftover sandwich. (Unsplash/@Pixzolo)
A cleaner is taking legal action against a law firm after being fired for eating a leftover sandwich. (Unsplash/@Pixzolo)

Gabriela Rodriguez, who hails from Ecuador, has been cleaning the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years as an employee of Total Clean, reports the Guardian.

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As per the outlet, United Voices of the World Union (UVW), which supports migrant workers, claimed that Rodriguez was "unjustly" fired just before Christmas last year in 2023 for eating the leftover tuna sandwich. She is now taking legal action against the law firm for “indirect race discrimination”.

“Cleaners are routinely dismissed on trivial and, we argue, discriminatory grounds like this every day around the country. Many describe feeling treated ‘like the dirt they clean’ and Gabriela is one of them. We will raise our voices and unite to fight any employer – even big powerful companies like Devonshires Solicitors,” Petros Elia, the general secretary of UVW, told the Guardian.

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“And just because we clean their dirt, does not mean they can treat us like dirt. We demand respect, dignity and equality, regardless of the language we speak, our country of origin, or the colour of our skin. We are taking both Total Clean and Devonshires Solicitors to an employment tribunal. For Total Clean, the claims are for unfair dismissal and direct race discrimination. For Devonshires Solicitors the claims are for direct and/or indirect race discrimination,” Elia added.

According to the Guardian, UVW argues that Rodriguez’s removal was an “act of discrimination”. They contend that she would not have been removed if she was “not a Latin American with limited English”.

UVW has also initiated a ‘Justice for Gabriela’ campaign, reports RollOnFriday. A few members of the organisation also showcased a protest earlier this month outside the offices of Devonshires Solicitors. They also gave out leaflets with “I ate a leftover tuna sandwich and got sacked!” written on them.

What did Total Clean say about their decision?

“While we would not typically comment on personnel issues, we would like to address the misleading and inaccurate information that is being alleged by our ex-employee. It is important to us to maintain the integrity of our workforce and service by ensuring we deal appropriately with any actions that undermine the hard work and reputation of our incredible team who conduct themselves impeccably. Trust and honesty is of paramount importance,” a spokesperson from Total Clean told the Guardian. “All steps taken have been in accordance with UK employment law following the proper investigative and disciplinary process. We will be making no further comment on the matter,” they added.

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How did Devonshires Solicitors react to the controversy?

“Devonshires did not make a formal complaint against Gabriela and expressly told Total Clean not to take any action against her. Total Clean carried out their own investigation and the decision to dismiss Gabriela was taken without any input or influence from Devonshires whatsoever. This is a private matter between Total Clean and Gabriela but we have made clear to Total Clean that we would not object – as we never have done – to Gabriela attending and working on our premises if Total Clean changes its position,” the law firm told the Guardian.

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