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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Idaho agency denies sex discrimination lawsuit allegations

By Keith Ridler, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge should dismiss a sex discrimination lawsuit and not allow as evidence any recordings made by a former employee intended to prove her claims, an Idaho state agency says.

The 8-page document filed Monday in U.S. District Court by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game also asks that it be awarded attorney fees. The lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court seeking $100,000 in damages and attorney fees includes an allegation that a male supervisor threatened to strangle the female employee with an extension cord.

Fish and Game denies that ever took place.

The lawsuit also said the woman recorded incidents that substantiated her complaints of a hostile work environment. It's not clear what was recorded or how the recordings were made. Fish and Game contends those recordings are illegal and should not be allowed as evidence.

"As plaintiff appears to intend to capitalize on the fruits of felony misbehavior in the recording of others without any consent, her claim should be barred as a matter of public policy, and all evidence of such recordings should be stricken," Fish and Game said in the court document.

Shaakirrah Sanders, an associate professor at the University of Idaho law school, said Idaho is a one-party consent state when it comes to recording conversations. She said that means if the woman was present while making her recordings, they'd be legal under Idaho law. If a recording device was left behind and the woman wasn't present, that would be illegal, and the woman could face prosecution under Idaho law.

However, Sanders said, a federal judge might still allow illegally obtained recordings into the trial.

"Especially if there are some pretty strong denials that the recordings could rebut," she said.

The lawsuit contends that the worker received a written reprimand for having recorded conversations in the workplace, but that a male worker also recorded conversations but wasn't reprimanded with a write-up. Fish and Game denied that allegation.

Other allegations Fish and Game denies include making the woman a scapegoat for errors at the workplace, giving her impossible deadlines, and excluding her from communications needed to do her job.

The lawsuit states that the female worker submitted 13 applications for promotions or transfers, but those jobs all went to male workers. Fish and Game in the document filed Monday said the woman didn't meet qualifying standards and chose workers who were more qualified.

The former employee, who worked at the agency full time from 2008 to 2016, is asking for a jury trial.

It's not clear when the federal court will make a ruling on Fish and Game's motion to dismiss the case.


Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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