Ex-Dusek's Employee Fired For Missing Shift On 'A Day Without Immigrants' Rejects Reinstatement Offer

By Stephen Gossett in Food on Feb 20, 2017 9:00PM

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Photo via Facebook.

A popular Pilsen restaurant has apologized and offered an employee his job back after he was terminated for missing his shift without giving notice in order to attend the "Day Without Immigrants" protest on Thursday. But the former employer said he will not return.

Ricardo Gamboa on Sunday afternoon called for a boycott of Dusek's Board and Beer (1227 W 18th St.) because one of his students, Eliseo Real, who worked at Dusek's as a dishwasher, was terminated after he missed his scheduled shift on the day of nationwide protest—which intended to spotlight immigrants' significant role in American life and its economy, and also protest President Donald Trump's self-described "crackdown" against undocumented immigrants.

But owner Bruce Finkelman said in a statement on Monday that the restaurant management and the chef are in agreement that the situation ought to have been an exception to the restaurant's no-call/no-show policy, and Dusek's offered is offering the employee his position.

Finkelman told Chicagoist in a statement:

"This employee was initially terminated by our chef, not because of his decision to participate in #ADayWithoutImmigrants, but because he no-called/no-showed for his job without allowing us the opportunity to cover his shift. However, we appreciate the elevated conversation that this isolated incident has brought to light. We had the chance to sit down with our entire management team this morning and review the details on a closer level. Along with our chef, we are all now in full agreement that the particular circumstance deserved to be an exception to the no call/no show policy—immigrant rights are a core value of our institution. Our chef has reached out to the employee directly to let him know that we’re trying to right this wrong, and he has also offered him his job back."

Along with the policy exception, Finkelman also emphasized that Dusek's has worked to support the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood it calls home.

"Since day one, Dusek’s has diligently worked side by side with the Pilsen community to not only stand in full support of immigration rights, but to also celebrate the cultural fabric of our neighborhood," Finkelman said. "We’re thankful to employ many of the hard-working people who live in Pilsen, and without them, our restaurant simply would not exist."

"We’ve always been proud to show our support to all immigrants and recognize they are an essential part of our business and our country," he added. "I’d like to personally apologize if this circumstance has made you believe anything but."

The owner also noted that—among other community contributions, including its Cause Beer program and curation of the "Shapes & Areas" art exhibit—Dusek's announced last week it would donate a portion of proceeds on President’s Day to the ACLU.

Still, Real, a 21-year-old Little Village resident, said the apology he received was insufficient and he will not be returning to work at Dusek's. Real, who said he worked at Dusek's for approximately one month, told Chicagoist that he felt the apology did not satisfactorily address one comment in particular made by the chef after he returned to work the following day—when, according to Real, the chef replied to Real's reason for missing work by saying, "That’s great for Mexicans and all, but you can't do that shit here." Dusek's was closed during brunch hours, but Real said there was no discussion with employees regarding operations regarding "A Day Without Immigrants." Real said that in order to make things right, Dusek's should either commit to hiring more people of color and longtime community residents for the restaurant's higher-paying positions or give a quarter of monthly profits to a Mexican-American/Mexican household in the community.

This post has been updated.