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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Workers say they appreciate fired manager’s stance on Thanksgiving

Several Pizza Hut employees defended the effort of a fired manager who opposed the idea of being open for business on Thanksgiving.

Posted on Nov. 29, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 29, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.

ELKHART — The Pizza Hut manager, who roared on behalf of his co-workers and was soon pushed out the door, is being hailed as a hero by some employees of the company.

The Elkhart Truth on Friday sought comments from employees and customers at four Pizza Hut restaurants in Elkhart after Tony Rohr’s firing led to national headlines.

Rohr was let go earlier this month after refusing to make his staff at the Jackson Boulevard Pizza Hut work on Thanksgiving.

The firing was initially covered by WSBT and quickly picked up by Huffington Post, CNN, MSNBC and numerous other news outlets. A search of Rohr’s name and the restaurant resulted in 12,900 results on Google Friday.

In a written statement he issued to Pizza Hut when he was let go, Rohr called the demand to open stores on Thanksgiving “greedy” and “immoral” and went on to say that management needs to remember “it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.”

Following a backlash of criticism, Pizza Hut issued a statement on its website saying the corporate office believed the franchise “made a serious error in judgment.”

Rohr was offered to be reinstated by the franchisee, Franchise Management Inc., of Canada, which operates all of the Elkhart stores. According to numerous media reports, Rohr is still considering the offer.

Rohr, who lives in South Bend, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Regardless of whether he returns, it appears a lot of people appreciate what he did.

A slice of opinions collected Friday all had the same taste.

“I’m glad that he did it,” said one employee, a single mother with several children who said she feared she would be fired if her name was published. “I think he did the right thing.”

She said she considers Rohr a hero because “he stood up for something.”

Rachael Lovely, a shift manager who works at the Nappanee Street store, said she thinks Pizza Hut is a good company but believes the franchise erred in its effort to keep up with competition.

Traditionally, the company is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Lovely said employees look forward to the time off. Lovely, a 14-year employee with Pizza Hut, had Thanksgiving Day off, but three fellow employees worked at the carry out and delivery store.

“I would say he’s a working class hero,” Lovely said of Rohr.

“I think he did the right thing, sticking up for his employees,” she said.

At the Pizza Hut near Concord Mall, Richard Sparks, of Elkhart, was headed in for lunch with his son and niece when he was asked about Rohr’s circumstances.

“Holidays are for families. I think he did the right thing,” Sparks said.

Another employee who works at the Cassopolis Street store was asked about Rohr. “I thought it was good,” she said.

One employee said she took a phone call from somebody complaining about how the company handled the situation. An employee at the Jackson Boulevard store said they receive “lots” of calls about Rohr.

A reporter for The Elkhart Truth called the store on Thanksgiving, and a recorded message said it was closed for the holiday. An employee said he was aware of the recording.

A manager at the store Friday declined to comment but said the store was open.

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