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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003


SV Company sued
by ex-executive

Hayes claims she was fired
for objecting to hiring practices

Express Staff Writer

The former human resources director for the Sun Valley Company filed a lawsuit Tuesday, April 1, against her former employer alleging she was fired for being a whistleblower about the company’s hiring practices of foreign nationals and "discrimination" of female and non-French employees.

Kim Hayes, 35, who was fired in July 2002 after two years as head of the company’s personnel department, named the Sun Valley Company; its parent corporation, Sinclair Oil Co.; Sun Valley Company general manager Wally Huffman; food and beverage manager Claude Guigon, and 53 others.

Filed by The Roark Law Firm of Hailey, the suit asks for a jury trial, unspecified damages of not less than $10,000 and a permanent injunction "enjoining them (defendants) from engaging in further unlawful employment practices …"

Huffman’s office said he is out of town until Thursday.

Sinclair attorney Lynn Hart, in Salt Lake City said he had no comment since he had not seen the lawsuit.

Hayes’ attorney, Cynthia Woolley, pointed out that the Idaho Department of Labor has ruled that Hayes is entitled to unemployment compensation of about $250 a week, which she said indicates the termination was unjustified, as well as receiving a "Notice of Right to Sue" from the Idaho Human Rights Commission.

Her salary when she was fired was $48,000 a year.

The central contention in the 16-page lawsuit’s 12 claims is that Hayes discovered the Sun Valley Company was hiring foreign nationals without U.S. Social Security cards as required by law and was fired after complaining to company management.

Hayes explained during an interview that during this time, she hired Woolley as her attorney at her own expense for advice on what to do, and when the company learned this, she said she was confronted by Sinclair’s director of Human Resources, Lowell Hardy, whom she said told her she was being fired because she hired an attorney.

Hayes husband, Terry, also worked for the Sun Valley Company in maintenance but resigned after she was fired.

"I really want people to understand I tried to work this out with the company," Hayes said during an interview. "Things were going on (at Sun Valley Company) that I’d be held accountable for" and that she objects to.

After complaining to Huffman, Hayes said that company employees with the knowledge of management "conveyed to the general public that plaintiff was insubordinate, disrespectful, incompetent, disloyal and dishonest, and that plaintiff was terminated from her employment for those reasons."

The suit termed the alleged statements "wrongful, unlawful and malicious" and "were intended to, and did, deprive plaintiff of public confidence and good will …"

Hayes also alleges that females are paid less than males at the Sun Valley Company, and French-born employees receive preferred treatment. Guigon, the beverage manager, is French.

Her allegations against Huffman, Guigon and unnamed others listed as "Does" in the lawsuit involve assertions that they defamed her with remarks about her competence and performance as human resources director.

Since leaving the Sun Valley Company, Hayes has launched her own firm, International Employees Solutions, which, ironically, involves recruiting foreign nations for employment by other businesses.

She said the Sun Valley Company has not retained her services.


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