AS SPATS with the boss go, it started out small—a complaint over 10 minutes of unpaid work every morning. But when the pet dander finally settled at a Southeast Portland doggie daycare, picket lines had sprouted outside Dogs Dig It, and the employee at the center of it all said her boss had not only had her fired, but also evicted.
Last week, Cristen Love was standing among the pla-cards waved daily outside her former employer on SE 11th and Salmon. Love, 29, had wrangled the pooches at Dogs Dig It—Portland's largest doggie daycare—from December 2009 until August 13, when owners Ellie Davis and Janel Hanson fired her for lateness and insubordination.
Love says things only got worse from there. She and Hanson used to be friendly, and Hanson knew Love had adopted a Basenji terrier, Ilio, from the doggie daycare—even though her apartment bans pets. During her second day protesting, on August 17, Love says Hanson "came out and threatened to call my landlord about Ilio." When Love got home, she found an official notice taped to the door: Get rid of the dog, or move out by August 31.
Dogs Dig It referred questions to its attorney, Tamsen Leachman, who didn't respond to messages seeking comment.
Love's property manager, Roslyn Southwick, confirms she received a call on August 17 from a woman claiming to be a tenant who complained about a dog in Love's apartment. But when Southwick asked for a name, the woman refused. "I thought it was odd that a tenant would want to remain anonymous, even after I said I wouldn't tell anyone who she was," says Southwick.
Southwick wasn't the only person to get an eyebrow-raising message about Love when the protest launched. Former Dogs Dig It manager Katie Patterson received an e-mail from Davis the day the protest started, asking if Patterson had ever written Love up for violations. Patterson hadn't, but she said Davis' request struck her as odd: "It was really fishy, like she realized, 'Oh, this is going to be a bigger deal than I thought it was.'"
The issue that sparked the debacle came down to 10 measly minutes: Workers at Dogs Dig It were required to come in 10 minutes early for their shift but weren't paid for the prep time.
It's against state law for employers to make hourly workers come in for any unpaid time, so in protest Love began clocking in on the dot... until she was fired. Now, Love and half a dozen members of the International Workers of the World are rallying daily, and Love has filed a wrongful termination complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Meanwhile, she's still not sure if she'll give up Ilio or move: "I'm wrestling with that. He's such a sensitive dog, such a mama's boy."