Discrimination suit heading to trial in July 2019

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Nick Wallace/courtesy photoNatalie Hoover

SPOKANE — A discrimination suit filed by a former Grant County deputy prosecutor is scheduled to head to trial in a year’s time.

The United States District Court, Eastern Division in Spokane has confirmed that Natalie Hoover’s lawsuit against Grant County is scheduled for a jury trial on July 15, 2019, with Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson presiding.

Hoover’s complaint states she began working at the prosecutor’s office as a district/juvenile prosecutor in April 2015 at a base salary of $50,000. Hoover, who is currently employed at the Ephrata-based law firm Schultheis, Tabler & Wallace, alleges she and Prosecutor Garth Dano knew the salary range for the job was between $59,009-$68,155 annually.

Several male attorneys were reportedly hired for the same position as Hoover, but were “paid significantly more” despite her having similar experience to her male colleagues. Dano allegedly knew Hoover wasn’t being paid as much as other males in the office, but the discrepancy wasn’t corrected immediately. Dano allegedly told Hoover “if she had an issue with her salary, she should come talk to him” and in summer 2016 she learned about a job opening in the office with a starting pay of $59,000 a year. Hoover allegedly discovered her male colleagues were earning more than $59,000 and approached Dano in July 2016 about the job opening.

The lawsuit claims Dano “laughed” at Hoover and he wanted to know why she should get a pay bump. She said she confronted the prosecutor about the pay disparity and requested a pay increase.

“Mr. Dano informed Plaintiff (Hoover) that Hyrum Hemingway, a male colleague who performed substantially similar work, was purportedly offered a higher salary based on the salary he had received from his previous employer,” reads the lawsuit.

Hoover later received a pay bump, but it allegedly didn’t reflect from the date of her hire through July 27, 2016. She was ultimately fired from the prosecutor’s office in May 2017.

When asked abut Hoover’s firing, Dano told the Columbia Basin Herald the firing was related to poor job performance.

“It had zero to do with her sex. I have other female deputy prosecutors employed at the office and haven’t had any issues like this before,” Dano told the Herald on Tuesday.

“This entire thing is very troubling and I’ll tell you what, this is very discouraging and disheartening that it got to this.”

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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