Undercover Game Wardens Sue Over Pay Issue

By Beacon Staff

HELENA — Three game wardens have filed a lawsuit against the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks claiming they should be paid for every hour they work on a case for which they must maintain their undercover identities during the entire assignment.

The lawsuit, filed in District Court in Helena on Friday, said the men are required to have nearly constant contact with a suspect and might have to camp or share a house, lodge or room with the person, the Independent Record reported Wednesday.

During that time, they contend, they cannot contact family members for fear of blowing their cover and rarely get a night of uninterrupted sleep.

“Any departure from these identities would put the success of the investigation and safety of plaintiffs at jeopardy.” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiffs are required to be available to a suspect whenever the suspect calls or visits during the tour of duty.”

FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim told The Associated Press the agency wouldn’t comment because it’s a personnel matter.

The lawsuit identifies the wardens only by their initials and does not include their attorney’s name. It argues FWP violated the Montana Wage Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act and seeks back wages, penalties, damages and attorney fees.

The wardens also claim FWP is retaliating against them by refusing to assign them new undercover work and instead giving the work to untrained and unqualified employees.

“Plaintiffs have been individually intimidated and threatened by FWP,” according to the lawsuit.

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