A cleaner is fighting back over her firing after eating a leftover tuna sandwich she found in a law firm's meeting room

  • A cleaner at a London law firm was fired after eating a leftover tuna sandwich.

  • A migrant-workers union is taking the firm and a private contractor to an employment tribunal.

  • Union members protested the cleaner's dismissal last week.

A cleaner was fired after eating a leftover tuna sandwich she found in a meeting room at a top London law firm, the legal-affairs website RollOnFriday reported Friday.

The website said that the woman's employer, Total Clean, a private contractor, fired Gabriela Rodriguez, a single mother from Ecuador, just before Christmas.

It said Rodriguez was fired after eating a tuna sandwich, worth about $1.90, that was left behind after a meeting at the law firm she worked at.

Devonshires Solicitors, the legal firm, complained to Total Clean, resulting in the termination of her employment, the website said.

A spokesperson for Devonshires told BI in an email that it did not make a "formal complaint" and that it told Total Clean not to take action against Rodriguez.

The law firm said Total Clean, which did not reply to a request for comment from BI, decided to dismiss the cleaner after conducting its own internal investigation.

The spokesperson for Devonshires added: "This is a private matter between Total Clean and Gabriela but we have made clear to Total Clean that we would not object, as we never have done, to Gabriela attending and working on our premises if Total Clean changes its position."

Members of United Voices of the World, a union that represents migrant workers in the UK, have protested the dismissal, according to The Guardian.

UVW alleges that if Rodriguez were not Latina and with limited English abilities, Devonshires Solicitors would not have complained about her and she would not have been fired, per The Guardian.

The Guardian also reported that Rodriguez had been cleaning the offices for two years before her dismissal.

It said the union was taking both Total Clean and Devonshires Solicitors to an employment tribunal over claims of "unfair dismissal and direct race discrimination" and "direct and/or indirect race discrimination," respectively.

Petros Elia, UVW's general secretary, said to the outlet that cleaners in the UK were often dismissed on trivial and discriminatory grounds.

Elia added: "Many describe feeling treated 'like the dirt they clean,' and Gabriela is one of them. We will raise our voices and unite to fight any employer — even big, powerful companies like Devonshires Solicitors."

UVW did not immediately respond to BI's request for comment.

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