State liquor store managers who have gone to court to ask a judge to grant them Sundays off need to do their job, lawyers for the state said.
The state's side of the dispute is detailed in court documents that were unsealed on Thursday, the day after the New Hampshire Union Leader published the plight of managers of state-run liquor stores in Milford and Hinsdale.
The managers say they are forced to work on Sundays for months because they can’t find help. A 25-year-old state law prohibits the Liquor Commission from forcing any full-time employee from working on Sunday.
That law prevents the managers from forcing their full-time employees to work Sundays, and they can’t find the part-time help willing to work on Sundays, the managers said in their court case.
In the unsealed filings, Attorney General Civil Bureau attorney Michael Grandy said the two managers aren’t required to work Sundays. But their job does require them to make sure help is available to keep the stores open.
“(The managers) ask the Court to interfere with the stores' managerial rights to hold its staff accountable for not performing their essential job functions,” Grandy writes, in asking the judge to throw out the suit.
They want a judge to interfere with the Liquor Commission's rights to hold them accountable for not doing their job, he wrote.
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger has told the managers’ lawyer, John Krupski of Concord, to file a written response by this Friday to Grady’s effort to dismiss the request for an injunction.
If Kissinger decides to keep the case alive, he will schedule a hearing.
In state filings, Grady gives several reasons for dismissing the suit:
- The managers have not been punished. Their claims of “hypothetical potential discipline” are “unripe” and should only be brought if they are punished.
- If they worked Sundays, they did so voluntarily and not under order from the regional manager.
- Jacob Gorecki, the Hinsdale manager, did not work any Sunday from mid-January 2020 to mid-January 2021, Grandy wrote, a contradiction of the suit's claims that he works every Sunday.
- The managers can pursue their complaints through other means: union grievance procedures, the Personnel Appeals Board, and the Public Employee Labor Relations Board.
- The situation has been going on for months, so no immediate, irreparable harm exists, a bar that must be cleared for a judge to issue an injunction. “The Petitioners have put forth no argument why Sunday work now suddenly constitutes an immediate irreparable threat when Sunday work in July, August, September, October, November and December did not."
Their lawyer, Krupski, did not respond to Union Leader emails seeking comment.
Krupski filed the suit in late January on behalf of Milford store manager Shelly Duggan and Hinsdale store manager Gorecki.
“Both (managers) are being compensated for their time, but nothing can make up for the loss working on perpetual Sundays even when they choose not to do so,” Krupski wrote.
Both said they were under pressure to keep the store open on Sundays but received little support from regional managers on how to do so.
In filings, the Justice Department said it had initially sealed its court filings to protect any privacy interest against the employees. But on Wednesday it moved to unseal most of the filings.
Several portions remained blacked out, some that hint about their shortcomings. Also blacked out are two multi-page appendices.