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Court Rules for Fired Toilet Paper Collector

(CN) - The Colorado Court of Appeals set aside an order denying unemployment benefits to a hospital worker who was fired for collecting toilet paper remnants for troops in Iraq.

Dana Starr, a data registrar for the Community Hospital Association, said she was fired after 26 years for taking toilet paper scraps from the floor and around bathroom stalls.

According to Starr, soldiers in Iraq need small rolls of toilet paper to "put in their pocket to go on missions." She claimed that before sending the toilet paper to Iraq, she would unroll "two or three lines just to make sure it's clean, because it's been on the floor."

A co-worker, suspicious of Starr's motives, reported the activity to management. "I think our government can afford toilet paper for the soldiers," she allegedly said.

Starr insisted that soldiers "really love the little ones because they can put them in their pockets."

But her employer fired her, citing a "zero tolerance policy" for thieving employees. The association considered the act stealing, despite Starr's claim that the paper was mere trash.

As a result, Starr was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. She challenged this decision, arguing that her employer never placed a value on its toilet paper.

Vacating the order, the state appeals court pointed to the dearth of evidence that Starr's paper-swiping "resulted or could have resulted in serious damage."

Judge Sandra Rothenberg remanded to determine if Starr took the TP "on a good faith, but false, belief that the items she was taking were abandoned or discarded."

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