SOUTH BEND, Ind. (ABC News) -- Pizza Hut is under fire today after a former employee came forward saying the chain fired him for refusing to open the location he managed on Thanksgiving Day.
Tony Rohr, 28, from South Bend, Ind., said he found out two weeks ago that the franchise owner, Franchise Management Investors, insisted on opening the restaurant on Thanksgiving to stay competitive, despite having never opened on the holiday before.
“I said, ‘Why can’t we be the people who say we care about our employees?’” Rohr, a 10-year employee at the restaurant, told ABC News. “I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t want to make anyone work on Thanksgiving.”
Rohr alleges the company responded by forcing his resignation. “My area coach told me the director of operations needed me to write a letter of resignation. I was like, ‘Well, being fired and resigning are two very different things and I’m not going to do that,’” Rohr said. “So I wrote a different letter explaining my position on the situation and handed it in and left.”
Rohr said he wrote in his letter, “I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company. I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.”
Chuck Kayser, area coach of Franchise Management Investors, maintains that Rohr was never fired, though. “Tony was never fired. He quit his position. I didn’t want him to quit, but he chose his own path,” Kayser said. “He was asked to put it in paper; that’s just a standard corporate procedure. I wanted Tony to stay, and have offered him his job back three times already.”
After the story hit local news, angry commentators inundated the corporate Pizza Hut Facebook page, and the company responded with a statement on the social network. “We feel strongly that the situation involving our independent franchisee and the local store manager could and should have been avoided. We fully respect an employee’s right to not work on a holiday, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving. As a result, we strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager and they have agreed. We look forward to them welcoming Tony back to the team,” the chain wrote.
The restaurant is open today, though, and Rohr said he does not have any intention of returning to work. “It was just kind of the last straw,” Rohr said. “You have all these people making pretty much minimum wage with only two days off a year to be with their families, and they didn’t even say anything about offering extra compensation or overtime.”
Rohr is currently unemployed and looking for work.