A Papa Johns boss fired a "starving" teenage employee over text because he asked for a free pizza after he couldn't afford to buy one during an overtime shift.

The owner of the Caerphilly pizza branch wouldn't allow 17-year-old Lawson Callaghan to have free food, despite one pizza costing nearly double the teenager's hourly rate, even with a staff discount.

Papa Johns UK are looking into the incident and cannot provide further comment until the investigation is complete, WalesOnline reports.

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The owner of the branch has also not commented on the incident.

Lawson had started the job about a month before the incident which happened on Friday night (September 2) and was paid £4.81 an hour – the minimum wage rate for 16 and 17-year-olds.

He texted the owner from the branch at around 10pm, an hour after he had expected to finish work, saying he was "starving" and asking if he could have a medium margherita pizza for free.

Lawson explained that employees aren't given free food on shift but do get 50% off.

However, he said he had asked for a free meal as a one-off as he hadn't had a payday yet and had no money.

But the owner said he was "confused" by the youngster's request and asked why he should pay for the teenager's food, which would have cost £8 with the employee discount.

Lawson pointed out he was on a low wage and had no transport cover, but the stingy owner responded: "I was paid £3 an hour when I started at 16 and built my business.

"Your really rubbing me up the wrong way," the boss wrote.

"Stop looking for discount and handouts and feeling sorry for yourself because of the cost of travel.

"I paid £15 today to get to and from work and got paid 0. Make your money what your owed for the hours you work and stop trying to get hand outs!"

A lengthy debate via text ensued, with the owner even telling Lawson to pay for the pizza himself and "don't disturb me again".

But the brave employee wouldn't let up and pointed out the harsh working conditions of the shop, with employees only being allowed to leave at the manager's discretion – but rather than a listening ear, instead the boy got the sack on the spot.

In the brief conversation that followed, the owner said he was "worth a s*** load" and made fun of Lawson for not having enough money for the pizza.

"I pay what I want," he wrote. I pay myself 8k a week as I have 4 shops looking to buy 4 more soon Your a loser good luck boy!"

Lawson said he was then removed from a group chat with the owner his fellow employees.

Another employee later shared screenshots with the snubbed former employee showing that the owner had appeared to share screenshots of their conversation with the rest of the group

After the employee said the owner should keep the conversation between himself and Lawson, he replied: "Nah my business I do what I want".

Speaking about his reaction to the incident, Lawson said: "How can he be saying that type of thing, especially to someone who is under 18 who's only been working there for a short amount of time – their first job as well."

A spokesperson for Papa Johns UK told WalesOnline: "Papa Johns UK restaurants are 100% franchisee-owned and we require all franchisees to be good employers.

"We are currently investigating this matter and it would not be appropriate to comment further until that investigation is complete."

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