McDonald's Cheesed Off After Dutch Court Verdict

By Robert Clarkson on February 10, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

On its website, the Dutch tourist board helpfully provides a list of Holland's most treasured cultural icons: clogs, windmills, van Gogh, tulips, and cheese. 

BBC News reports that fast-food chain McDonald's took reverence for this last icon a little too far recently.

Apparently the company fired a waitress working at an outlet in the northern Dutch town of Lemmer, Friesland province, for failing to charge a colleague after she added a slice of cheese to her hamburger.  The restaurant manager said the cheese upgrade turned the hamburger (1.75 euro/$2.47) into a cheeseburger (1.95 euro/$2.75).

Still smarting over the potential loss of 28 cents revenue, McDonald's justified dismissing the waitress on the ground that she broke staff rules prohibiting "free gifts to family, friends or colleagues."

The district court in Leeuwarden didn't find this argument persuasive, however. According to AFP news agency the judge ruled the "dismissal was too severe a measure." A written warning would have been more appropriate. After all "it's just a slice of cheese," said the judge. And not a very good cheese at that...

Radio Netherlands Worldwide adds the judge criticized McDonald's for refusing to give the waitress an opportunity to explain or apologise and for failing to take action against the colleague who ate the cheese.

The court ordered McDonald's pay the waitress 4,265.47 euros ($6,006.69) compensation for wrongful termination. It also ordered the company pay costs.

Now that's one expensive piece of cheese!

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