Pizza Hut offers to rehire manager who refused to open on holiday

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) - A store manager of a Pizza Hut franchise in Indiana is mulling over a rehire offer from the worldwide pizza chain after he was fired for refusing to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving Day.

Tony Rohr, 28, said he was told to write a letter of resignation after deciding to give his employees at the Elkhart, Indiana, store the holiday off. He told South Bend, Indiana, station WSBT-TV that he instead wrote a letter explaining why the store, part of Yum Brands Inc, should be closed, and then he was fired.

Pizza Hut's corporate office said in a statement it "strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager, and they have agreed."

Although the choice to open on a holiday is made at the local level, most U.S. franchise locations are closed on Thanksgiving, it said.

As Rohr prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family on Thursday, he told CNN he had not decided how to respond to the rehire offer.

"That's something I can't decide right away," he said. "I'll start looking into stuff tomorrow."

A call by Reuters to the store formerly managed by Rohr was answered with a recorded message saying: "We are closed for the holiday."

With U.S. retailers offering "Black Friday" discount deals before Thanksgiving, critics circulated online petitions, and a handful of franchise owners said they had defied corporate orders by keeping their stores closed for the holiday.

"It bothers me that this country is allowing them to dictate time away from our families," Holly Cassiano, who refused to open her Sears franchise in Plymouth, New Hampshire, told CNN.

Among other retailers, grocer Whole Foods Market Inc . said its Thanksgiving work shifts were voluntary and that it would compensate staff with time-and-a-half pay. Discount chain Kmart, a Sears unit, said it had offered its holiday workers the same arrangement.

(Reporting By Lisa Maria Garza; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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