Crotty & Son Law Firm

Category Archive: news

  1. Suzanne Hawk v. Dog Sciences d/b/a Unleashed Academy & Mary Davies

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    An employer cannot misclassify employees as “independent contractors” in order to avoid having to pay minimum wage and overtime.


    On February 1, 2023, Suzanne Hawk, a former dog trainer (also known as a Behaviorist), filed a class action lawsuit against Dog Sciences and Mary Davies alleging that Defendants improperly designated her as an “independent contractor” so as to avoid paying minimum wages and overtime compensation. A copy of Ms. Hawk’s  class action lawsuit is available here.


    On August 11, 2023, the Spokane County Superior Court granted Ms. Hawk’s motion to certify her class action lawsuit. A copy of the Court’s class certification order is available here. The class that the Court certified is:


    “all persons who have worked as dog trainers or Behaviorists and classified as Independent Contractors for Defendants in Washington at any time between January 31, 2020 and the date of the final disposition of this action.”


    On October 5, 2023, the Court approved Ms. Hawk’s motion to amend her class action notice to include the following language: “Mary Davies, Dog Sciences, LLC, and their agents may not communicate with you about this notice or lawsuit and may not retaliate against you for not opting out of the class.” A copy of this Court order is available here.


    The Court approved Class Action Notice is available here.



  2. Boyd v. Acro Inc. et. al.

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    Chico’s Pizza, which does business as Acro Inc., hired Ms. Boyd in 2016. As time wore on its manager and owner, Mitchel Zornes, subjected her to sexual harassment. A copy of Ms. Boyd’s complaint detailing Mr. Zornes’ harassing acts is available here.

    After Ms. Boyd files suit Mr. Zornes was deposed. A deposition is a under oath proceeding where one testifies just like they are testifying at trial. At the deposition Mr. Zornes did not deny the majority of Ms. Boyd’s sexual harassment allegations. A copy of Mr. Zornes’ deposition transcript is available here.

    Following his deposition Mr. Zornes passed away. His deposition was, however, read to the jury as part of a four day trial.  After the trial the jury found in Ms. Boyd’s favor and awarded her $530,750.00 in damages.

  3. Hamilton v. Newport Hospital & Health Services

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    Newport Hospital & Health Services hired Laura Hamilton to serve as its Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). Shortly after arriving she discovered that certain hospital leadership were likely violating HIPAA. As her employment with NHHS wore on Ms. Hamilton came to believe that a senior hospital manager was discriminating on national origin and conducting an interview on company time. Ms. Hamilton reported these suspected legal violations to NHHS’s former CEO (Tom Wilbur) and new CEO (Mary Anne Keane). Within days of reporting the suspected legal violations the Hospital fired Ms. Hamilton.

    Following a full week trial the Court found that NHHS retaliated against Ms. Hamilton for whistleblowing and fined Mr. Wilbur and Ms. Keane $3,000 each on account of their retaliatory acts.

    A copy of the Court’s order finding that NHHS retaliated against Ms. Hamilton is available here.

    As part of the order the Court ordered NHHS to pay Ms. Hamilton’s legal fees. A copy of Ms. Hamilton’s petition for legal fee reimbursement is available here.

  4. Maria McSwain v. World Fuel Services

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    Maria McSwain worked at World Fuel Services as a Senior Human Resources Generalist. She was also a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Throughout her employment at WFS she experienced discrimination when called to go on military reserve duty and retaliation when she complained that some of her fellow HR professionals were discriminating against her on account of her military service obligations.

    Ms. McSwain filed suit against WFS. WFS then counter-sued Ms. McSwain for repayment of certain military related leave benefits. Ms. McSwain then got court approval to amend her complaint to include WFS’s lawsuit against her as another instance of actionable retaliation.

    A copy of her Amended Complaint is available below.

    A copy of Ms. McSwain’s response to WFS’s summary judgment motion is available below.

    Below is the Court Order denying WFS’s motion to exclude Ms. McSwain’s economic loss expert from testifying.

    On December 9, 2022, the Court issued an order that allowed Ms. McSwain’s USERRA discrimination, retaliation, and failure to employ claims to go to trial. A link to the summary judgment order is below.

    ECF 129 Order re Summary Judgment

    On December 14, 2022, the Court dismissed WFS’s counterclaim against Ms. McSwain. This counter-lawsuit, which WFS filed only after Ms. McSwain sued it for violating USERRA, sought to recoup benefits WFS agreed to pay Ms. McSwain under WFS’s own policies. A copy of the order dismissing the counterclaim is available below.

    ECF 131 Order re Plf MSJ Order

    The case resolved shortly before trial. 

  5. Valentine Fertitta v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

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    Valentine Fertitta is an FBI agent and an officer in the US Marine Corps Reserves. He is also a veteran of the Iraq war. While serving in Iraq he was injured by an explosion. In late-2020 Mr. Fertitta’s service-related medical conditions began to manifest. This caused him to miss work in order to go on military duty to be treated for his service related injuries. The FBI, apparently not liking the fact that Mr. Fertitta was missing work, retaliated by (among many things) ordering him to do FBI work while on military reserve duty, not forwarding his Primary Relief Supervisor application to the local career board (even though Agency policy gave his managers no discretion to hold the application back), ranking him as an “inconsistent performer,” and then ultimately placing him in charge of a unit 49 miles from his home – – – an act that led a (now retired) FBI Agent to remark “who did you piss off.”


    A copy of Mr. Fertitta’s whistleblower complaint is embedded below.


    On December 20, 2022, Mr. Fertitta filed a federal disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. A copy of Mr. Fertitta’s complaint is available here.
  6. Kristi Horn v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

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    The USDA employed Ms. Horn for over 12 years. Up until early-2020, Ms. Horn had satisfactory (or better) performance reviews. That all changed when Ms. Horn got a new second level supervisor took. Whenever Ms. Horn would raise an issue relating to one of her many disabilities that supervisor would discipline her. Ultimately, the USDA fired Ms. Horn. On January 31, 2022, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) reversed the USDA’s firing of Ms. Horn, found that the USDA violated Ms. Horn’s due process rights in firing her, and ordered that she be reinstated with her lost wages being reimbursed.

    A copy of the MSPB’s order is available below.

  7. Eric Schwartz v. Rampart Aviation, et. al.

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    Rampart Aviation, LLC is a federal government contractor. Rampart employed Eric Schwartz, an officer in the US Navy Reserves. In late-September/early-October 2020 Mr. Schwartz complained to company management that the company’s delaying of his promotion and training on account of his military service violated USERRA. Days after making that complaint Rampart grounded Mr. Schwartz from flying. And, shortly thereafter Rampart fired Mr. Schwartz.

    A copy of Mr. Schwartz’s lawsuit is available here.

  8. Justin Carlile v. Waste Connections

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    Waste Connections employed Justin Carlile beginning in May 2019. It promoted Mr. Carlile in February 2020. From May 2019 through June 2021 Mr. Carlile had no documented performance problems. That all changed in mid-June 2021 when Mr. Carlile, for the first time, took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Mr. Carlile’s FMLA ran from June 15, 2021 through July 12, 2021. On July 12, 2021 (the day he returned from FMLA) Waste Connections put Mr. Carlile on a performance improvement plan and, weeks later, fired Mr. Carlile.


    Mr. Carlile subsequently sued Waste Connections for violating the FMLA and the Washington Law Against Discrimination. A copy of Mr. Carlile’s complaint is available here.

    The case has resolved.

  9. Edward Cancilla v. Sandia National Laboratories

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    Mr. Cancilla began working for Sandia in 2010. In 2013 the U.S. Navy Reserves called Mr. Cancilla to active duty. In late-2016 Mr. Cancilla contacted Sandia and requested to return to work as his military leave was coming to an end. Although USERRA regulations require an employer to re-employ a returning veteran promptly, Sandia did not re-employ Mr. Cancilla until February 2018 and that was only after Mr. Cancilla asked to return to work numerous times in the intervening 15 months and having complained to the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve. A copy of Mr. Cancilla’s USERRA failure to re-employ claim is here.

    The case has resolved.

  10. Charles Graham v. HNI Hospitalists of Idaho

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    Dr. Charles Graham worked for HNI as a Physician and Medical Director beginning in early-2020. In mid-2020 Dr. Graham requested workplace leave to address a disability. Upon returning from medical leave Dr. Graham asked that management limit his shift work because that is what his disability accommodation required. HNI’s management denied Dr. Graham’s requests, and then ostracized Dr. Graham, and then fired Dr. Graham within days of Dr. Graham raising issues about patient care.


    HNI requires its employees to sign arbitration agreements which, in turn, deprive those employees of having their cases decided by a jury of their peers. A copy of Dr. Graham’s arbitration complaint is available here.  A copy of Dr. Graham’s charge of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is available here.


    The case has resolved.