Kevin Brown, one of the nearly 20 employees of Snarf's sub shop to receive the email, said he and his co-workers received the communications Sunday saying their employment would be terminated effective Monday, two days before Christmas, WBBM-TV, Chicago, reported Wednesday.
"Two days before Christmas -- it's absolutely ridiculous," said Brown, who worked at the shop for three years.
A company spokeswoman confirmed 17 employees were fired and sent emails Sunday. The company said the firings were not related to a strike for higher wages earlier this month.
The spokeswoman said declining business at the restaurant has led the owners to plan renovations. She said the fired workers will be welcome to reapply when the eatery reopens.
The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago said it is looking into whether the firings were carried out legally.