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Brit supermarket worker sacked for drinking Lady Grey instead of store brand


March 29, 2011 - London

A supermarket worker in Britain has revealed that he was sacked from his job after he drank Lady Grey tea instead of the supermarket's own brand of Fair Trade drinks.

James Alden, who worked at the Co-operative supermarket in Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester said he was given a written warning for taking the wrong brand of tea from the shop shelves to drink in the staff canteen.

Under Co-op rules, staff are allowed to take teabags from the shop to use in the canteen without paying, as long as they are Co-op's own Fair Trade bags, but Alden took two boxes of Lady Grey tea.

"I'm completely flabbergasted. I can't believe they can sack someone for something so trivial as using the wrong tea bags," The Telegraph quoted Alden as saying.

"In all other respects, I have been a model employee. I have never been late or off sick in 11 years of service. I would have thought at the very worst this would deserve a warning - it's a storm in a tea bag," he said.

Lady Grey tea, described by Twining's the manufacturer as "a pale golden tea infused with refreshing citrus flavours", is a modern, subtler version of the famous Earl Grey tea.

The retailer insisted the draconian action was not because it disapproved of his choice of tea and denied it was trying to impose its own culinary tastes, rather that only Co-op tea could be used without staff paying for it.

He was called to a disciplinary meeting and in a formal letter, informing him of the decision to sack him, the company said the teabag offence was "misappropriation of company stock by taking items into the canteen without making prior payment".

This was one of two incidents that led to the employee being sacked after 11 years of service with the supermarket group.

The other was for not recording the ages of people over 25 buying cigarettes and alcohol.

The Co-op, like many supermarkets, has a policy that checkout staff ask customers for their age when buying tobacco and alcoholic drinks, as part of a "Challenge 25" initiative.

Staff at the Co-op have to log the estimated age of shoppers on the till machine, even if they do not ask the shopper for their age, and the retailer claimed that Alden failed to do so.

"The individual concerned was dismissed from his position at our store on Burton Road following serious breaches of a number of our business procedures," a spokesman for The Co-operative said.

"The appeal process has been explained to him should he wish to challenge the decision," he said.

ANI

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