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Employees of Eugene's Restaurant fired earlier this year after they tried to organize a union must be given priority for new jobs at 33 Dunster St., another restaurant owned by the same management, a federal judge ruled this week.
Federal District Court Judge Rya Zobel ruled that because Ralph and Molly Hoagland are involved in both restaurants, the two establishments constitute a "single employer."
The judge ordered the Hoaglands to offer any new openings at 33 Dunster St. to former Eugene's employees. Should Eugene's, which was closed shortly after the firings, be reopened, former employees will also be given priority for jobs.
"No one can be hired off the street until the former employees have been offered the job," Ira Sills, who represented the 25 workers, said yesterday.
"It was a precedent-setting case," Sills said, adding that "even though they were separate restaurants, the judge ruled they couldn't hide behind a corporate veil."
Both Hoaglands were unavailable for comment yesterday.
The Hoaglands did not present any evidence nor call any witnesses during the two-day hearing, Sills said. "The evidence was overwhelming--for them to try and present evidence would only have tightened the noose around their necks," Sills said.
Former employees walked a picket line in front of Eugene's for several weeks after they were fired, saying that union activity had caused their dismissal.
Sills, who called the injunction an "extremely rare tactic used only in the most egregious cases," said a National Labor Relations Board hearing scheduled for next fall will decide whether or not the employees are entitled to back pay.
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