Taps the sign.

A cleaner has been fired for eating a leftover sandwich she found in a law firm’s meeting room, it has been alleged.

Gabriela Rodriguez, a single mother from Ecuador, cleaned the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years until she was summarily sacked just before Christmas by her employer, private contractor Total Clean.

Her alleged crime was to have eaten a £1.50 tuna* sandwich from Tesco that had been left over from a meeting and was due to be discarded.

The breach was so abhorrent that Devonshires, whose highest-paid member received £1.68 million in 2023, allegedly complained to Total Clean, resulting in her dismissal. A spokesperson for the firm told RollOnFriday that it did not make a "formal complaint".

According to her supporters, Rodriguez appealed the decision but Total Clean refused to reinstate her on the basis that “theft is theft” and because it did not want to upset Devonshires.

Supporters also appealed to the 235-lawyer firm directly, but they said it “showed no good will and refused to support Gabriela's case”.

Around 30 people protested outside Devonshires’ office this week where they handed out leaflets titled "I ATE A LEFTOVER TUNA SANDWICH AND GOT SACKED!”

Sacked 4 a sandwich. 

The ‘Justice for Gabriela’ campaign has said her firing directly implicated Devonshires, which was “either responsible for her sacking or complicit in it”, and that while she had submitted an employment claim, tribunals “can take years to conclude and she needs a job and an income now”.

A spokesperson for Devonshires told ROF, “Devonshires did not make a formal complaint against Gabriela or ask for any action to be taken against her. Total Clean carried out their own investigation and the decision to dismiss Gabriela was taken without any input or influence from Devonshires whatsoever. 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". 

Total Clean did not respond to a request for comment.

Tip Off ROF


Marinerboy 16 February 24 08:16

If property is not actually abandoned but is considered so by the defendant, there can be no conviction. The issue is whether the individual subjectively and honestly believed the property was abandoned. R v Small. 

Anonymous 16 February 24 08:35

What an utterly, utterly disgraceful way for Devonshires to behave. They could and should have had this poor lady reinstated weeks ago. 

Inspector morze 16 February 24 08:46

So how did Total Clean know about the sandwich?

Wish clients would stop this kind of pathetic behaviour by law firms.


Anonymous 16 February 24 08:49

8:22, yes, and? Devonshires outsources its cleaning. It complained to her employer because she ate a leftover sandwich (although not 'formally', whatever that means). What did the firm think would happen when it did that? Impoverished conduct. The right thing to do is to say nothing, and if a partner is so addled that he insists the matter be raised, you make damn sure to make clear that you don't want her punished.

Anonymous 16 February 24 08:51

Imagine the scene at Devonshires - "Do we do the right thing and ask she be reemployed or be total weasels and claim it is nothing to do with us?"

Do you trust a firm without a moral compass?


Anonymous 16 February 24 09:13

You’ve got to wonder what kind of person (a) notices that a cleaner has eaten a left over sandwich in the first place, and then (b) feels so moved by the incident to mention it to anyone else’s let alone the cleaner’s employee. 

I’m having Friends flashbacks. MY SANDWICH?! 

Anon 16 February 24 09:25

Can't see why someone would care about a leftover sandwich beig eaten.  Presumably the employer, which as you say wasn't the law firm anyway, would conduct a review  and is unlikely to fire someone if that is the full story.  Not sure what her married status or nationality has to do with it, but if she had any protected characteristics again you'd expect an employer to again be careful.  So must be more to this? Mind you, you'd hope a law firm would buy posher sandwiches for meetings.

Devil’s advocate 16 February 24 09:25

If the cleaner entered the meeting room just as the meeting was ending, launched herself over the table, grabbed the sandwich whilst proclaiming “mmm, tuna!” then proceeded to eat it in two bites and throw the crusts at a client, I think she might’ve deserved the sack here. 

Anon 16 February 24 09:28

Blimey, I’ve helped myself to left over sandwiches from being a trainee through to partner.  Guess I  got lucky there were no malicious or pompous partners around to report me to the SRA. What a tw***sh thing to do 

anonymous 16 February 24 09:28

More to the point, why is a single mother from Equador in the UK. Can guarantee she is claiming  benefits, i.e. being supported by UK taxpayers

Vile 16 February 24 09:32

Imagine what kind of rancid sp**ktrumpet you'd have to be to be so incensed by the serfs eating something once vaguely earmarked for you that you'd have a cleaner sacked during the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes. What an odious, pathetic waste of space. No wonder most people absolutely hate lawyers.

Devonshires are the Devil 16 February 24 09:34

Devonshires trying to absolve itself by saying it wasn't a formal complaint is disingenuous.  In today's corporate world, a lot of places tell their staff, in the name of customer care, a complaint should be addressed even if it's not a formal complaint.  

Anon 16 February 24 09:47

This is from the firm's website about its so called values :

"At Devonshires, we are committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to providing a workplace that fosters the development of our people, is free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect

We will only ever engage with suppliers, subcontractors, or third parties who take active steps to follow good practice in recruiting, developing, and managing staff that help to widen opportunities in under-represented groups, and who in turn look for similar practices in suppliers, subcontractors, or third parties with whom they contract."



Anonymous 16 February 24 09:48

The worst thing about this is that fee earners will have been taking uneaten food from meeting rooms all the time (assuming they're anything like any of the firms I've worked at), but when it's a cleaner who's doing it they're suddenly clutching at pearls. Utterly despiciable behaviour.

Chud 16 February 24 09:54

Why are you guys talking about whether it was a criminal offence? She was sacked, not arrested. 

Anonymous 16 February 24 09:58

The poor lady was probably just hungry.  Where is the humanity in people? People on minimum wages are struggling.  She caused no harm.  Just surviving. 😢

Anonymous 16 February 24 10:13

anonymous 16 February 24 09:28



Actually, if she was an illegal immigrant, her employer and possibly Devonshires should be in a lot trouble than her. But that of course will never happen, as it is the RIGHT of every rich person in this country to have immigrant serfs doing the not-very-well-paid work, while ranting about illegals.

Anonymous 16 February 24 10:20

This is exactly the type of thing marketing teams worry they'll appear in Roll on Friday for.

Anonymous 16 February 24 10:22

By eating that sandwich you permanently deprived the bin of it.  You’re fired.

How utterly ridiculous. 

Anonymous 16 February 24 10:50

The real crime is that Devonshires stocked their meeting rooms with Tesco tuna sandwiches in the first place. 

scratchy 16 February 24 10:53

imagine instead of thinking, 'wow, is this cleaner getting paid a london living wage...' you go and rat them out to their agency resulting in them getting sacked for eating a leftover sandwich cos, presumably, you felt uncomfortable at witnessing this... let me say I'll help assemble the guillotine 

Notmytunasandwich 16 February 24 10:55

The person who complained must be such a nasty, petty f***er. That person will definitely be reading this, maybe take a moment to consider who you are. Dev's mealy-mouthed statement is just as bad. What a nasty bunch of s##ts.

#tunasandwich 16 February 24 11:30

Theft is theft…regardless of if it’s a sandwich or not. I think the comments only reflect one side of the story…

Anonymous 16 February 24 11:40

Reading reviews of Devonshires in general tells you all you need to know about this firm

#tunasandwich 16 February 24 11:57

@Pfffy if I was a “Devs Partner” I would be stupid to even react to these comments so take your comment somewhere else….don’t assume. Makes an a*se out of you and me. Happy Friday :) 

WTF 16 February 24 12:05

I’d be surprised if her contract required her to place this item directly into the waste system without first passing it through her digestive system. 

Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye but, on the face of it, it’s a shameful episode that discredits both the law firm and the cleaning company.


Not all seems what is told... 16 February 24 12:58

hard to be true! how can a person employed to work as a cleaner been caught stealing a sandwich and not being guilty? What else could this person have taken like a phone, laptop, confidential documents without being noticed? Anything could have happened, and the trend has started and seen! Would it be interesting to observe, if this person might have taken legal and confidential documents from lawyers' desks and is trying to cover up with a typical non-sense story? Her claim should be investigated. No one has the right to touch on other people belongings. If she wanted to eat, should have asked. Would not believe someone would have denied any food. This is the problem with these immigrants, they have no sense on mannerism or politeness and claim all victim claims from our English good lambs, making us look stupid, distorting reality and making difficult to believe anyone. In her country of origin, she would not have done this or would have been arrested. This immigrant's proponent behaviour has to stop! Thinking that they are better than English native people or making themselves as victims is really absurd. We are all the same!

Anon 16 February 24 13:41

Entirely disingenuous from the firm to say they had no input into this given they raised the issue in the first place. They caused this.  Also I have no doubt that if they told the contractor to keep her then they would have done.  Who needs "an investigation" over whether someone eats a leftover sandwich.  It's ridiculous.   

Anonymous 16 February 24 14:24

Not surprising in the least. The culture at that firm is, and has been for decades, supremely toxic - led by the equity partnership (in particular one individual that heads up the […] dept)

Anonymous 16 February 24 14:28

@Not all seems what is told.. - with arguments like "what if they did this totally different thing, wouldn't take also be a crime?" and "ungrateful immigrants can suck it" you've displayed the skill set required to get a job as a litigator at devonshires. Already miles ahead of all incumbents. 

Anon 16 February 24 14:43

Low grade "high street" firm whose top of equity is around 1.5m.  Which makes it all the worse to kick up a fuss like they have done.  

Brown person 16 February 24 15:20

Not all seems what is told... 16 February 24 12:58 :-  I think your comment is meant to be for the Daily Mail readers.  Clearly have that type of mentality. This is a website for educated people.  Well….then there is you. I would have probably done the same. What am I then? The United Kingdom is my country of origin

Anonymous 16 February 24 16:00

Hang on - a cleaner cleans away a left over sarnie but rather than allowing it to go to landfill, she disposes of it in a sustainable way - by scoffing it - She did her job and well: sounds like she needs a promotion to me.

Anonymous 16 February 24 16:15

It's hard to believe that (a) somebody noticed a discarded tuna sandwich being eaten, (b) cared about that discarded tuna sandwich being eaten, (c) felt so moved by that feeling that they took all of the steps needed to escalate the matter and identify and then report to the employer of the person doing the eating, and (d) that, on hearing that complaint, the vendor felt similarly moved about the matter of the tuna sandwich to go through with firing someone. That's quite a lot of unlikely things happening in sequence. I know that the bandwagon has already left the depot and that we all Really Care, but do we not have to pause for just a moment and ask if the story being presented here is really true? Like, are we sure that there might not be some critical detail missing that might make the narrative sound a bit more plausible? Are we not being a little bit too credulous here?

SecularJurist 16 February 24 16:52

Devonshires' action represents much of what is wrong with this country, that mistreats minorities, the poor and where a Big Law firm enables kleptocrats and oligarchs to launder their ill-gotten gains having without permission and intentionally  permanently misappropriated other persons' (citizens, governments) property and public money worth billions, then gets a cleaner the tin-tack for consuming a £1.50 sandwich which she reasonably believed was abandoned. It wasn't even a Jean Valjean offence here.

Horrible. Despicable.


SecularJurist 16 February 24 17:04

Don't see Devonshires in FOTY rankings. Just as well.

Perhaps, RoF, next year's ranking should feature social contract criteria; how a firm treats, or is perceived to treat, support staff, contractors, the 'little' folk who do the menial tasks and other things that partners are obviously too snooty to do themselves, like using litter bins, recycling bins, cleaning up after they've eaten, opening a blind, opening a door, switching on/off a light, washing a coffee/ tea cup or coffee/tea-spoon, pushing the buttons in a lift.

Anonymous 16 February 24 20:16

What a bunch of d**ks! I once found a massive spliff on our office floor. It belonged to our cleaner. He was and is a lovely chap. I left it and nothing further happened. Because I am not an amoral, self righteous bellend. Devonshires, take note. 

Sandwich Saviour 16 February 24 20:20

Um... why are you people all banging on about sandwiches m7s??? Read between the motherfudging lines.

A company with a name like "Total Clean" can't be working on the basis of only one client. They'll have numerous clients where they place their army of sandwich munchers. If someone at Devonshire's DID whinge about leftovers, any sensible cleaning manager would think "bovvered" and just place this particular cleaner with another client.

The fact that this particular cleaner has been sacked suggests we're looking at more than sandwiches. It might have been referred to but likely along with other things, and/or she's on her last warning and/or there's been other conduct issues which have contributed to the decision.

Oinseach Donner-McCarthy 17 February 24 01:52

I commend Devonshires Solicitors for steadfastly upholding the property rights of the elite, and continuing to provide a sanctuary where the likes of Michelle Mone can leave their tuna sandwiches without a care during their crucial tax minimisation meetings . Cruel as it may seem ,lower class individuals must be taught that there is no such thing as a free lunch. At least not for them, anyway. It's just a pity Devonshires failed to have the wretched woman deported  . A  real missed opportunity to reinforce the social order to my mind. 

Step in? 17 February 24 10:34

Firm says ‘You got sacked for eating our garbage which would have gone straight in the bin after sitting in the staff kitchen for another 12 hours after being picked at by paralegals and front of house.

Firm says: nothing to do with us, even though your employer clearly found out from us.. 


Firm says: message we’re sending is no one eats our garbage and gets away with it. 

Firm says: we’re the clients who instigated this injustice but it’s not for us to do something about it. 

Firm says: we want the ROF Golden Turd Q1 2024 Award. 

Step in? 17 February 24 10:49

‘Not all seems what is told... 16 February 24 12:58’

Can’t tell if this is satire at its best? 

I am assuming it is satire because the message comes across like it’s been written by an a level law student with zero office experience, no perspective, and no understanding of people at work? 

Anonymous 17 February 24 18:31

If I were a client of Devonshires, I'd be investigating an alternative firm and take my business and contribution to their equity coffers - elsewhere! 

incakenito 18 February 24 07:13

Awful of Devonshires to report this - if anything they should have had a word with her and asked her not to do this or told her the reason. The only reason I can think of that they would even care is that someone else was planning to eat it and had saved it as cleaners only come in in the evenings. 

Anonymous 18 February 24 09:34

@18:31 - oh yeah, if I was a GC somewhere then I'd totally believe every word of this. That kind of uncritical acceptance of every absurd tale I was told would be how I'd got where I am today. I would immediately move all of my instructions to somewhere Kind like Irwin Mitchell because of a cleaner. It happens every day.

Peckish for Tuna 18 February 24 19:14

All she wanted was a succulent tuna sandwich - Devonshires more like the NSDAP

3-ducks 19 February 24 08:36

This is Dickensian. 

I actually had to check the date to make sure it wasn't 1st April. 

AprilFool 19 February 24 12:00

So - somebody at this shoddy firm must have reported the 'theft' to Total Clean. Who was that and how much do they get paid a year?

This just goes to reinforce the stereotype of lawyers being money-grabbing low lives. or at least those at partner levels.

Guess what rich people - there is a cost of living crisis going on - maybe you should just have a policy that it's not OK to chuck away good food and actually donate it to food banks - or heavens forbid tell your cleaning team they are welcome to anything that's left over.

No justification and no morals on display here.

Anonymous 19 February 24 12:04

"This is Dickensian." - What, in the sense of being a work almost entirely of fiction?

Bob Whiskins 19 February 24 13:22

So, Devonshires grassed up their cleaner, then tried to backtrack by claiming it wasn't a 'formal' complaint.

Anonymous 19 February 24 14:43

Devonshires should be disgusted with themselves. Absolutely appalling behaviour. Shame on you, Devonshires!! Make this right. 

Anon 19 February 24 15:24

To the obvious daily mail reader who commented earlier, you got your DM Article along with the bigotted comments that ensued, even in the face of printing her dismissal letter which only referenced the sandwich incident. Some utter d**ks in our profession and the world. 

42 Practising Certificates 19 February 24 16:43

Oh dear. The Daily Mail have picked up the story (h/t RoF ?). Devonshire's PR people must be in full firefighting mode.

Gordon Clifton 19 February 24 17:07

Devonshires management are accountable for the behaviour of their contractor while carrying out the contract. Their response is typical of old-fashioned legal management - clueless.

Gordon Clifton 19 February 24 17:09

Devonshires managers are accountable for the behaviour of their contractor while carrying out the contract. Their response is typical of old-fashioned legal management - clueless.

help devonshires 19 February 24 17:46

i think Devs must be in terrible state to have Tesco sandwiches in the meeting rooms. I hope the partners at Devs should set up  a crowdfund to help them over these difficult times. 

In house lawyer 19 February 24 18:40

Disgusting when that poor woman is supporting children in a cost of living crisis. The law firm and cleaning firm should both be ashamed! I’m appalled and will never use this firm and will encourage others to swerve them. Bringing the profession into disrepute 

Interestedbystander 19 February 24 20:10

Devonshires’ main source of income by miles is… its massive social housing practice, generating enough from its charity clients to pay its TOE £1.6m pa while the tenants of said clients go hungry to pay the leccy bill… nice! 

Anon 19 February 24 20:15

And now this story has made it to the top of Daily Mail Online.  Devonshires will be thrilled! 

Anonymous Anonymous 19 February 24 21:56

Just read: Cleaner sacked for eating leftover tuna sandwich takes legal action against City law firm.

Gabriela Rodriguez cleaned the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years.

Employmentlawpartner 19 February 24 22:07

The only person who ought to be sacked is the Devonshires management team who failed to intervene to prevent this happening to the poor lady and then not immediately doing a U turn when it must have been obvious they had a PR disaster on their hands.   

Summary termination for bringing the firm into disrepute anyone?  

Under cross examination Devonshires will have to accept they would have consented with this guff on their website:


After five years of winning Platinum at the Clean City Awards, we have also now been nominated for their highest accolade, the Chairman’s Cup. Following this year’s efforts, we are now recycling 92% of all our office’s waste, saving 14 trees and 2 tonnes of CO2 per month”.

Not their tuna sarnies though. 

Owner 20 February 24 04:20

@Not all seems what is told... 16 February 24 12:58

there’s always going to be that sad racist individual/group. Get a life and read a book. You clearly need it

Tunatunatuna 20 February 24 05:11

Sounds like the doing of some jobsworth office manager.  Not that I can’t imagine some bellendy partner also making an issue of it; I just expect they’d be at least be smart enough to understand the optics of the latent trainwreck this has now become. 

PC 20 February 24 11:54

Really simple way for Devonshires to fix this and come out smelling of roses - employ her directly and cease all business relations with Total Clean. 

Drew Henderson 20 February 24 13:59

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Obviously not.  At worst this transgression (if thats what it was) would merit a 5 minute conversation with HR imparting the message: "Don't eat leftover food items." 

But this case highlights the disastrous imbalance in worker rights in 21st century Britain.  Devonshires gets to claim clean hands for firing a powerless cleaner, while quietly (and efficiently) outsourcing the dirty work to their bum-licking contractor. A pox on the lot of them.

I really hope Devonshires gets to suffer client and business consequences for their policies. But somehow I don't think that's gonna happen.

Bernard Profitendieu 20 February 24 16:44

Devonshires didn't formally complain about it?  That's just lawyerspeak that means they informally complained about it.

Can you imagine being the petty Devonshires creature who picked up the phone to make that "informal" call? 

Karen White 20 February 24 17:21

One of my biggest concerns is that the law firm were going to bin all the leftover food? Presumably not just sandwiches? They could offer it to all people working at the firm rather than throw food away? I am not young and this throwaway society horrifies me, people worked to produce food and farm animals die so poorer people can be refused leftovers, what a world we live in, its like it's 200 years ago in the UK

I eat leftovers at law firms 21 February 24 01:50

Not seeking to excuse the reaction, but to me it seems more likely one nasty individual at either the law firm or the cleaning company had an axe to grind with Ms Rodriguez

K&E Partner 21 February 24 09:04

Woke society at work here in these responses. I wouldn't expect any of my housekeepers or cleaners to start eating my leftover food while working. If nothing else it looks unprofessional.  When I was a shelf-stacker at Waitrose we couldn't eat food on the shop floor - we could eat on breaks period and it was a disciplinary matter if we did.  Likewise if we saw "waste" on the shop floor for disposal you couldn't take it, there was a system in place for purchasing it for a heavy discount but nevertheless there was a process and it would have been theft - maybe they sell their leftover meeting food to their underpaid staff? 

We don't have the details here but if she was standing around on shift eating leftover food then frankly it seems wrong and looks unprofessional.  Imagine a client seeing a cleaner stuffing her face in a meeting room. 

Oh poor minimum wage cleaner needs to eat so should be able to raid the bins and go scavenging on shift - no way do I buy this.  I would report a cleaner for doing this or pulling out my leftover deliveroo from my bin. 

Do I think it was theft - no, the cleaning company have clearly got that wrong if that is the sole reason for her dismissal.

I don't think it is black and white as people are making out - I have seen enough cleaners doing f-all during  their shift on phones, sitting in associate offices having a picnic, chatting away and not doing what they are paid to do.  

D are clearly a shit firm but I actually feel a bit sorry for them here. 

Office Drone 21 February 24 17:38

@K&E Partner  - this has little to do with woke and more with not being an arsehole and having non-arsehole priorities in life. 

If cleaners do sweet nothing while they are meant to work, this will become pretty evident - stuff won't be cleaned and you have a proper grievance about service failures.

But cleaning buildings is a physically demanding job with anti-social hours, shit pay, no social respect or recognition and no perks. If cleaners routinely take whatever's not nailed down or raid the office fridge or wine cabinet, that's complaint-worthy. But eating a crappy tuna sandwich from a left-over tray - who cares? Your life is not affected by this in the slightest while the cleaner might save a few quid on a sandwich they would otherwise have to buy. 

Are you seriously saying that as a well-paid lawyer with plenty of options in life and a lifestyle that cleaner probably struggles to imagine, you'd begrudge them a left-over sandwich because "it looks unprofessional"? A slightly more generous spirit would be gentlemanly/lady-like - the whole bible-thing about focussing on the splinter in your brother's eye and ignoring the beam in yours comes to mind. 


K & E Partner 21 February 24 18:41

There are some people I envisage I could hit with a claw hammer and feel absolutely no remorse. 

SandwichSwindler 21 February 24 20:38

I see leftover fruit, sandwich’s, wraps etc left all of the time in kitchen units on each floor. I work in business services so was I stealing???!

Tima 22 February 24 05:03

@K&E Partner

Working at Waitrose stacking shelves is different to cleaning offices so obviously there’ll be different expectations. Besides  it was stated in other news articles she kept it in the fridge to eat later which was 15mins before the end of her shift. If there was more to the story Devonshire or total clean would speak up but there isn’t hence why they are silent. They acted in pettiness without looking at the possible consequences. Sad for all those involved. 

Bev 22 February 24 18:33

Clearly the services of Devonshire and Total Clean should be seriously considered in using either service! What a fraud! I would have to find others to take my business

Related News