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Idaho agency: Worker’s lawsuit involves illegal recordings

By KEITH RIDLERAugust 26, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Recordings made by a worker of her unwitting colleagues at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as part of a sex discrimination case are illegal and shouldn’t be allowed in an upcoming civil trial, the state agency said.

The department said in court documents filed Friday that the worker violated federal and state laws at least five times by recording conversations that occurred while she wasn’t present.

The lawsuit filed in late 2017 in U.S. District Court includes an allegation that a male supervisor threatened to strangle the female employee with an extension cord. It seeks $100,000 in damages.

The agency denies the allegation and says it is not substantiated by the illegal recording.

Fish and Game also denies allegations in the lawsuit that the woman was made a scapegoat for errors in the workplace, given impossible deadlines, and excluded from communications needed to do her job.

Idaho is a one-party consent state, meaning a recording is legal if the person making it is present, experts say.

“Plaintiff spent dozens of hours recording her co-workers after a significant fish mortality event and a warning letter given to her in April of 2015,” the agency said in the court document.

The agency also said that recordings that appear to be legal frequently stop or start in the middle of a conversation.

The document says the woman saw nothing, assumed what was meant, and has not produced the full recordings.

A law firm representing the plaintiff didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Regarding the alleged strangulation threat, Fish and Game contends in its filing that the woman assumed that a co-worker was “physically gesturing even though she was hiding around a corner and did not see him doing anything.”

Based on previous court documents, the fish kill occurred at a hatchery that primarily produces steelhead to sustain steelhead runs in the Salmon River and its tributaries.

The woman was later transferred to a salmon hatchery.

The plaintiff worked at the agency full-time from 2008 to 2016.

The trial is scheduled to start Nov. 4.

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