Leobardo Meza claims McDonald's fired him for feeding homeless
4:21 PM, Nov 2, 2013
SAN DIEGO - A former McDonald's employee said he was fired for buying a hamburger for a homeless person, and other workers believe the company is hiding the real reason for his termination.
After six years working at the McDonald's location on 12th Avenue in San Diego, Leobardo Meza said he was let go from his job for feeding the homeless.
On Thursday, dozens gathered near the restaurant to protest Meza's firing.
"It's injustice … injustice for me," Meza said.
Ken Helms, who often camps out in front of the restaurant, said employees always help him and others out.
"He's being singled out and he's a good, good-hearted soul …," said Helms.
Thursday's protest is not the first time Meza's supporters would try to force a confrontation with management.
In a YouTube video shot inside the restaurant, one supporter tells a manager Meza's firing was "unjust" and other supporters would return to the restaurant.
While demonstrators came out to demand Meza get his job back, some said they wanted to expose what they believe is the real reason he was let go.
In August, Meza was front and center in the fight for $15 -- a protest to raise pay for fast food workers.
One supporter told NewsChannel5's Scripps sister station 10News, "They're scared of Leobardo, and not just Leobardo but the potential that this movement can carry."
McDonald's officials would not say why Meza was fired, but they said they do not have a policy against feeding the homeless.
Bob Sutherland, the owner of the franchise were Meza had worked, released a statement, which read in part:
"The accusations being made are absolutely false. With regard to employees participating in protests, I respect an employee's right to protest lawfully and peacefully. However, in this particular case, the accusation that Leobardo Meza was terminated because of his participation is untrue and is unrelated to whether or not he fed a homeless person."
McDonald's corporate released a statement that said:
"… McDonald's and its owners respect the right of employees to protest lawfully and peacefully … and employees who participate are welcome back to work regular shifts …"