Alison Waldock, a lunch lady working the food line in a primary school in Cambridge, England, was fired the other day for inadvertently serving gammon (a pork dish) to Khadija Darr, a young Muslim student after she asked for it.
If I have the chain of events down correctly,Khadija got the meal, the headteacher stopped her before eating it, then alerted school officials, who contacted Khadija’s parents, who called Alison’s supervisors, who immediately fired her for “gross misconduct due to ‘negligence, carelessness or idleness’.”
Whew. There was not a single pair of underwear that went unbunched in the entire county of Cambridgeshire.
Unless you count some of the local Muslims, who didn’t see what the big deal was.
… British group Campaign Muslim4UK branded Alison’s sacking ‘heavy-handed’.
Chairman Inayat Buglawala said: “Dismissing a dinner lady for inadvertently serving pig meat is an overreaction.
“The most sensible way to rectify such mistakes is to improve awareness of the pupils’ dietary requirements while apologising to the pupils and their parents.
“Mistakes occasionally happen. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of Muslim parents would be understanding.”
I haven’t heard of anyone else int he local Muslim community getting upset about what happened, but maybe I missed something. What thickens the plot somewhat is that the school told Khadija’s parents that Alison didn’t care about the mistake, and wasn’t at all upset about it when it happened. This directly contradicts her own testimony of the event after hearing of the error.
“I went out and apologised to the headteacher, who was obviously annoyed. I said I was sorry and that it was a mistake. The head could tell I was upset and sorry.
“A week later there was an investigation and I was told that the school did not want me on site. I was gob smacked. I haven’t been back since.
“I feel so let down by the school. I had worked there a long time. I just made a mistake and I am sorry.”
This also doesn’t address the logistical issue of having servers like her able to know, at a glance, what each student can and cannot eat.
Alison, who lives in Cambridge, said there were around 40 pupils with various dietary requirements and it was impossible to keep track of them with the lists she was given.
Regardless of how much remorse she did or didn’t show at the time, I agree with the Muslim4UK chairman in that firing someone for accidentally serving pork to a Muslim is a little much, and that the best way to have handled it would have been an apology and better access to each student’s dietary needs as they step up to the counter. (For the record, even if they were upset, my position would be the same for the above reasons.)
This entire situation smacks of nothing more than heavy-handed political correctness. I think the folks running Lunchtime UK don’t want to be seen as culturally insensitive, so instead of thinking of a rational response to the situation, they figured they’d fire the person who was the source and get on with their day. It’s an easy decision for them, since it requires absolutely no thought on their part and supposedly makes them look “tough on intolerance”.
In reality, it just makes them look like a bunch of thoughtless cowards. Seriously, unless this were a medically sensitive situation involving a severe food allergy, there’s no reason to fire someone over accidentally handing out haram food when the kid asks for it. Alison didn’t know. Khadija probably didn’t know. It was a mistake. Things like this happen. Even if she had eaten it, I don’t even think it would have been considered a sin since it wasn’t intentional. Instead, we have an entire school and a catering company falling over themselves in the name of “tolerance” and an employee with an 11-year tenure fired over a simple, correctable mistake.