Transit worker Jim Stanek thought he was doing a good deed when he gave a needy teenager $300 in discarded train passes. But he said the decision led to his firing.
Customers had paid for the passes then turned them over with outstanding balances to the booth where Stanek works as a station agent for the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency.
Stanek, 66, told the San Franciso Chronicle (http://bit.ly/JTHRe9) he thought the tickets would be thrown away. However, agency officials say the leftover balances go into the agency's general fund.
"I feel devastated," said Stanek, who received his termination letter on Tuesday.
The station agent said he recently stepped in to help the 16-year-old's grandparents, who were having trouble paying for their grandson's $11 daily, round-trip ticket from home to school.
Stanek said he was fired after the boy told station agents who stopped him how he got the tickets.
Stanek did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Antonette Bryant, president of the transit union that represents Stanek, said the union has appealed the decision by the transit agency.
"We will be fighting to get his job back and have him reinstated with all back pay," she told The Associated Press. She declined further comment about the case.
Agency spokesman Jim Allison told The Associated Press the manual for station agents clearly states they are not supposed to keep cash or unused tickets. The agency put about $8,000 in unused funds into the general fund in March, he said.
He declined to comment on Stanek's case.
Allison said customers can choose to direct the balance on their passes to charitable organizations through a community foundation that partners with the agency.
"We do have ways that we work with charities," Allison said. "There's an appropriate way to do that. We as an agency don't give tickets as a gift to charities."
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com