Student workers didn’t know they weren’t supposed to steal from their employer

According to this recent article from the University of Washington’s student newspaper, student employees at u-dub’s cafeterias didn’t know that it was against company policy to steal food:

At least 16 food service workers were fired last week by Housing & Food Services (HFS) on fault of stealing food. More than 140 workers are being questioned about possible theft activity, including at least 119 student employees and 24 full-time staff members.

Workers were giving away free food while pretending to ring up purchases.

But, here is the really good part:

Kyle, who wasn’t one of the employees fired, admits workers were stealing food. But he said the practice has gone on long before he began working in April, and he doesn’t think HFS took enough time to listen to students’ take on the matter.

“HFS made this quick judgment and swooped in and started firing people without warning,” he said. “They definitely could have talked to the students.”

Kyle said he was never told about a food policy, nor was he trained to follow a food policy when he first started his job. He said he thinks other employees didn’t know about a food policy, either. HE SAID STUDENTS WOULDN’T HAVE STOLEN IF A POLICY WAS MADE CLEARER. [my emphasis]

Did you get that? The policy wasn’t clear to him. The policy that you shouldn’t pretend to ring people up. Is this guy out of his mind? I don’t think so. Far from it probably.

It’s easy to rationalize this sort of outright theft when you feel undervalued and taken advantage of by corporate profiteers. The thinking probably goes something like this:

“The owners of this place are rich; what are they going to miss if I – a poor, hardworking college student – take a bit of food home after my shift, or gives some food to my coworker who just finished his shift, or to my poor college student friend who stops by to see me before heading to the library? I am valuable, and undervalued. The owners and managers of this cafe, well they’re just profiteers. They only got this place and all there money by taking advantage of students like me. Stealing from them is only fair. In fact, I’m taking seconds because this is justice.”