Meatball-snacking secretary can have her job back, boss says

Meatball-snacking secretary can have her job back, boss says
Photo: DPA
The Dortmund secretary who made headlines last week for being fired after 34 years on the job due to a conference buffet meatball snack can have her job back, her employer said on Sunday evening.

News analysis program “Anne Will,” which airs every Sunday evening, chose to focus on the topic, which it entitled, “Fired for a meatball – merciless working world?”

But as the show began, moderator Anne Will announced that the secretary’s employer, the North Rhine-Westphalian building association in Dortmund, had retracted her dismissal.

Her boss said he had not received sound legal counsel, Will reported.

The secretary, identified as Magdalene H., had worked for the building association for more than three decades, but was fired in July for taking two rolls and a Frikadelle, a German meatball specialty, after setting up a meal for her boss and his guests.

Last Tuesday, Magdalene H. faced her employer, building association head Hermann Schulte-Hiltrop, in court to request that he give her a warning instead, saying the incident was not a classic case of theft.

Her lawyer said that at 59, his client would likely not find another position, and that she felt her behaviour had been acceptable.

At the time, Schulte-Hiltrop, 51, told the court he would not change his decision because he had lost trust in his employee after the incident.

Schulte-Hiltrop told daily Bild on Monday that he had made contact with his former employee’s lawyer.

“I have apologised for the human cruelty of the dismissal and offered to reach an agreement,” he told the paper. “We are certain that we can reach an amicable understanding outside of the court.”

In a similar case, a Berlin court ruled in February 2009 that a former cashier for the Kaiser’s supermarket chain was rightfully fired after allegedly taking €1.30 in bottle deposits, though she maintains the termination was because of her union activities.

The woman, identified as Barbara E. but dubbed “Emmely” by the German media, had worked as a cashier for 30 years, but the company said the incident meant it could no longer trust her. The case has inspired union-related solidarity groups and made national headlines, making her a minor celebrity.

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