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For the week of May 14 - 20, 2003


Suit against Sun
Valley Co. transferred
to federal court

Express Staff Writer

A lawsuit filed last month by the former human resources director of Sun Valley Company against her former employer has been transferred from state court to a federal court.

Through her Hailey-based attorney Cynthia Woolley, Kim Hayes on March 31 filed a complaint alleging she was fired for being a whistleblower about the company’s practice of hiring of foreign nationals and "discrimination" of female and non-French employees.

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.

The suit asked 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 …"

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 also alleged that females are paid less than males at the Sun Valley Company, and French-born employees receive preferred treatment. Defendant Guigon is from France.

Woolley on Tuesday said the so-called "removal" of the case from the state court in Hailey to federal court is essentially a procedural matter that will not change any elements of the complaint or its demands for relief.

"If a case is filed in state court, the defendant can remove it to federal court," Woolley noted.

The case has been moved to U.S. District Court in Boise, she said.

Woolley explained that the plaintiff’s original demand for a jury trial in the matter still stands, but several preliminary legal procedures must first take place before such a trial might be conducted.



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