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Rusty Scupper to rehire fired staff It says all 74 were let go only to ensure prompt unemployment benefits


The Rusty Scupper restaurant says it will hire back all 74 employees that it fired in a reorganization last month -- firings that prompted the workers to file a lawsuit claiming that they were illegally dismissed.

Select Restaurants Inc., the Cleveland firm that oversees the Inner Harbor restaurant, told the employees in a letter last week that the chain intends "to bring back the existing work force" once a $1.5 million renovation is completed around mid-May.

Each employee received a form with the letter asking if he or she would like to return to work when the restaurant re-opens. The period of unemployment between now and then will be considered a layoff, according to the letter from John Quagliata, president of Select Restaurants.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore last month, workers described being summoned to a Jan. 10 meeting and learning that they would be fired Jan. 15. The suit claimed that Select Restaurants violated the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act, which requires companies with 100 or more workers to give 60 days' notice before firing 50 or more full-time workers.

Company officials said they did not provide notification because only 44 of the people fired were full-time employees.

Mr. Quagliata wrote in his letter that he wanted to "correct any misunderstanding and confusion" among the workers, saying that the restaurant chain always had intended to bring back the employees who were terminated.

"The thinking was that your employment needed to be terminated in order to ensure immediate unemployment compensation benefits," Mr. Quagliata wrote. "As has been the practice with other renovations, it was, and continues to be, Select Restaurants' intention and desire to bring back the existing work force."

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