In at least five states, roughly 60 people lost their jobs this week after they skipped work to participate in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest on Thursday, according to local media reports.
The protest, which was aimed at highlighting the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy, called on all immigrants to not work or buy anything Thursday and succeeded in shutting down businesses across the country, according to CNN. It is unclear, however, how many people participated in the strike, according to ABC News.
Still, around five dozen people say their participation in the protest cost them their employment as businesses fired them for not showing up to work.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 12 Latino workers at the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill told KTUL that they were fired over text message because they did not show up for their scheduled shift and did not call in.
“You and your family are fired. I hope you enjoyed your day off, and you can enjoy many more. Love you,” the restaurant owner texted one employee, according to screenshots provided to the station.
The employees told KTUL that while they expected to be reprimanded for missing work, they did not expect to be fired. However, the owner maintained the move was not political and was simply the result of the bar’s strict “no show/no call policy.” The owner also told KTUL that others had been fired recently for the same offense. Tulsa Public Radio reports that the restaurant has already started looking for new workers.
In King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, six workers at Bahama Breeze restaurant were barred from entering the building on Friday after missing work Thursday, a local activist told the Philadelphia Inquirer. As in Tulsa, none of the workers told their boss they would be missing work.
The activist later said all the employees had been rehired after people called the restaurant to complain.
However, Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Bahama Breeze, disputed the activist’s claims, saying no one was ever fired in the first place, according to Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for the company.
In Nolensville, Tennessee, 18 people were fired from Bradley Coatings, Incorporated, a local painting company, according to News Channel 5. The people fired told the news station that they informed their superiors on Wednesday that they would be participating in the protest and that when they failed to show up the next day, they were all fired.
Bradley Coatings confirmed the firings to News Channel 5 in a statement but also insisted that the terminations were not a political statement.
“The reason these employees missed work — to engage in peaceful demonstrations — had nothing to do with BCI’s decision to terminate them,” the statement read. “BCI regrets this situation, but it has contracted with its clients to complete work on a schedule set by the client’s general contractor.”
In Lexington, South Carolina, employees of Encore Boat Builders LLC were told not to participate in the protest or they would be fired, according to WLTX. However, 21 workers did not show up for work and were accordingly terminated. The company declined to comment to WLTX.
In Bonita Springs, Florida, six staff members at a daycare are no longer employed. Two say they were fired for wanting to participate in the protest, while four others say they resigned in protest after their colleagues were let go. However, the daycare’s head told NBC2 that no one was fired and that all six quit.
All five states, like the vast majority of states in the U.S., recognize at-will employment, which means employers can fire workers at any time without advance notice for any reason. While South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Tennessee all recognize some exceptions to this doctrine, Florida does not, per the National Conference of State Legislatures.
UPDATE: This story has been corrected and updated with comments from Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Bahama Breeze, denying that any workers were fired.