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Ex-manager of Bangor restaurant claims he was fired illegally over military leave

The Ruby Tuesday restaurant and bar at the Bangor Mall closed in August of 2016. (Gabor Degre | BDN)

BANGOR, Maine (BDN) -- A former manager of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Bangor on Friday sued the restaurant chain in U.S. District Court, claiming that he was fired illegally after spending a month last summer on duty with the U.S. Army Reserves.

Daniel Bossie, 41, of Carmel said that he found out the Bangor store was closing just over a week after returning to work from duty. The company refused to transfer him to run the Brewer or Waterville restaurants and instead hired other people as managers, even though Bossie applied for both positions, the complaint said.

By refusing to offer Bossie his former position or a comparable one, Ruby Tuesday violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act or USERRA, the lawsuit alleged. USERRA protects service members from being fired, except for cause, for 180 days following periods of service that lasted between 31 and 180 days, according to information posted on military.com.

Bossie’s attorney, Chad Hansen of Portland, said Tuesday that his client has since been hired as a manager at a different chain restaurant in the Bangor area.

“He is a good manager and is continuing to work in the same field,” Hansen said. “He does have other work so now the lawsuit is more about whether they treated him differently or worse due his military service. We did try to work with the company to try to get some answers but its representatives did not respond. A big part of this is to try to get information.”

James Vitrano, spokesman for the restaurant chain said Tuesday in an email that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

“[W]e have the utmost respect and admiration for our country’s military personnel and abide by all laws relating to military leave,” he said. “We believe this lawsuit is without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously.”

Bossie left on military leave July 8 and returned to work Aug. 5, the complaint said. While he was gone, “the managers left in charge encountered difficulties managing the restaurant,” the complaint claimed.

On Aug. 14, Bossie was informed that the Bangor store would be closing as part of a nationwide downsizing and that there was no manager position available in Maine, according to the complaint. A week later, Ruby Tuesday posted general manager positions for the Brewer and Waterville locations. Bossie applied for both but was not interviewed or hired.

Bossie began his career with the Tennessee-based restaurant chain in September 2012 as a manager in training, according to the complaint. He worked as an assistant manager at the Bangor restaurant and later was transferred to the Brewer location. He was promoted in January 2016 to general manager at the Bangor restaurant.

Bossie was in the U.S. Army Reserve before being hired by Ruby Tuesday and had taken approved time off previously for his monthly weekend training and summer training, the complaint said.

The former manager is asking for lost wages and benefits. He also is seeking an injunction to prevent the company from discriminating against other employees based on their military service.

If Bossie wins damages from Ruby Tuesday, they could be doubled if it is proven the firm willfully violated his rights. The complaint also has asked that the firm require all management level employees be trained in the protections covered by USERRA, if Bossie wins the lawsuit.

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