Court keeps alive man's complaint against brewery

CONCORD – A man who claims that working at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack damaged his lungs will get another chance to argue he deserves compensation.

George Gamas worked at the brewery for 25 years. A compensation appeals’ board rejected his attempt to collect workers’ compensation benefits because it said he waited too long to file a complaint. But the state Supreme Court has reversed that decision and sent the case back for further review.

The court said that even though Gamas didn’t file a complaint until 2006, he effectively put the company on notice two years earlier when he spoke to an Anheuser-Busch lawyer for a separate civil suit. The court also said the law regarding how workers must notify employers was ambiguous.

Gamas, of Manchester, sued the national beer company in 2003, claiming the company fired him because he was disabled, and because he is of Greek ancestry.

The company disputed his claims.

He was fired in 2000, reinstated and then fired again in 2001. Gamas claimed he was fired because his emphysema, a serious lung disease, made it impossible for him to work in some areas of the plant.

In depositions, Gamas also claimed that many of his co-workers called him disparaging names about his Greek heritage and that some supervisors knew about it.

The plant manager, Dennis Nesbitt, stated after the lawsuit was filed that Gamas had “an extensive history of work-related complaints.”

Gamas brought related complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the state Board of Registration and Nursing, Nesbitt said, but every complaint was dismissed.