A Pizza Hut manager in Indiana says he was fired because he refused to open on Thanksgiving Day. Tony Rohr, an employee of more than 10 years, told his managers that Pizza Hut could “be company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off.”
They instead asked him to write his resignation. Still defiant, he explained his decision in the 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.
For employees at Pizza Hut, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only two days of the year they were guaranteed to have off. When Pizza Hut, retailers, and other restaurants choose to open on Thanksgiving, many American workers that already struggle to take holidays off have little choice but to comply. The U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation days.
This year, more stores than ever are opening during the Thanksgiving holiday to get a jump on Black Friday sales. But some have defied the pressure to open and will instead let workers enjoy time with their families. The stores that open, meanwhile, risk consumer backlash for leading the trend.
Some of the larger retailers pay employees extra for working the holiday, but there is no guarantee. A Ohio state lawmaker wants to change that with a bill that would have stores pay three times normal wages if they open Thanksgiving. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts already have laws that bar big retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day.
Pizza Hut asked the franchise owner to reconsider firing Rohr, because “we fully respect any employee’s right to not work on a holiday.” He will get his job back:
[W]e 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.