A WINE STORE manager who claimed he was sacked for refusing to work on Sundays is to take legal action against his former employers, the Irish News has learned.
Downpatrick man Joe Hyland, who has worked in Winemark’s Carryduff off-licence for five years, said he was asked to leave the company after he objected last month to working on Sundays. If Mr Hyland’s action is successful it could have implications for the ever-increasing number of stores and businesses switching to seven-day opening. Most contracts for new workers now contain Sunday-working clauses but the position is not so clear-cut for long-term employees. Under new licensing laws which came into operation last month, off-licences can now open on Sundays from 10am to 10pm. Through his solicitors, Madden and Finucane, Mr Hyland said yesterday he had made himself available Monday to Saturday for five years with one week-day off and he now objected to being forced to work on Sundays. Mr Hyland, the solicitor said, was put on five weeks notice from February 26. He said it had never been part of the manager’s contract to work Sundays. “My client objected to working Sundays on grounds of principle and religion, and on family and social grounds. Winemark has admitted to me that Mr Hyland is a good and valued employee.” The solicitor said his client was currently on sick leave suffering from stress and high blood pressure. “He is highly stressed from the pressure he had been placed under and his doctor has told him he will not be able to work his notice. “To my client’s knowledge, other companies in the trade have sought volunteers to work on Sundays rather than impose it upon them.” Despite numerous efforts by the Irish News throughout yesterday, no-one was available for comment at Winemark’s Carryduff branch. The company’s general manager, Michael Caulfield, however, did speak to the Irish News last night but only to say he was not prepared to comment. Mr Hyland still has the right to use Winemark’s internal appeal system to object to his dismissal.