Amid a slew of angry posts on social media, a Pizza Hut franchise offered to rehire a manager who lost his job after taking a stand against forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving Day.
If you’re like me, when you think about Thanksgiving Day food, the first thing that comes to mind is likely turkey and a table full of trimmings.
Some people think pizza. I love pizza, but just not on that day.
That would normally be good for a company like Pizza Hut. This year, it turned out to be a major public relations nightmare after a local franchise’s manager balked at the suggestion of opening that location on Thanksgiving Day.
As his story goes, when he was told by his bosses that the location was going to open on Thanksgiving Day, something it hadn’t done — and in fact, something most Pizza Hut locations don’t do, he sent an email asking why their store couldn’t “we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off.”
The story he tells and the story the franchise tells varies a bit. It’s not clear whether there was an ultimatum to work or be fired or one to work or resign. In any case, the franchise parted ways with the employee, who’d been at that store for a decade.
The store, incidentally, did remain closed on Thanksgiving, according to Reuters.
Then the magic of social media happened.
The story was picked up by a local television station. From there, it went viral. Pizza Hut’s corporate Facebook page began filling up with comments condemning the manager’s firing. Some angry comments condemned its pizza, too. And some drama queens predictably proclaimed they’d never eat Pizza Hut again.
The company ultimately issued a statement:
“This was clearly an unfortunate situation, and we are very upset by what has transpired in Elkhart, Indiana. While the choice as to whether a restaurant should be open or closed on a holiday is handled at the local level by our independent franchisees, we feel strongly that this situation could have been avoided. We respect an employee’s decision not to work on a holiday if they so choose, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving. The stores that are open to service their local communities are staffed by team members with the willingness to work on this day as determined by their own personal situations. We will monitor and evaluate this situation closely and regret what has occurred.”
It’s a shame in a way that Pizza Hut (the corporation) winds up taking the blame for the actions of Pizza Hut (the franchise owner). At least the corporation made the decision to step in and try to rectify the situation. They deserve credit for that.
If you knew of a restaurant employee where you lived who said he’d lost his job for refusing to make his employees work on a holiday, then you learned he was rehired, would you be more likely to patronize his store, even if it wasn’t your favorite restaurant?