Ruling: Agency Must Identify Workers To Be Used As Witnesses

PHOENIX (AP) — An appellate court has ruled that federal officials don't have to identify all the employees of an Arizona company who provided information in a Fair Labor Standards Act case but must identify those who will be trial witnesses for the government.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Tuesday turned down the Labor Department's request to overturn a lower court's ruling in the case against Valley Wide Plastering Construction Inc.

Valley Wide had sought the identities of all the employees who provided information to the Labor Department. But the 9th Circuit said the lower court properly ruled that the department could keep the informants' identities secret.

The appellate court cited the so-called informant privilege, a legal doctrine intended to promote law enforcement and prevent retaliation.

However, the appeals court also said the privilege had to give way to Valley Wide's need to know the identities of trial witnesses in order to prepare a legal defense.