Former Idaho Controller employee shares story after settling harassment case

Posted at 5:30 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 19:30:00-05

A former employee for the State Controller's Office is sharing her story after reaching a settlement with the State of Idaho.

In September, Lourdes Matsumoto filed a  tort claim against her former employer, detailing her experience of sexual and racial harassment in the workplace.

"It's a very scary situation and it's a hard thing to come to grips with and to finally decide to do," Matsumoto said.

For Matsumoto, the national dialogue surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace hits close to home.

"We've seen it in Hollywood, and just this week we've seen it in Congress and politics," Matsumoto said. "What my situation shows is that no workplace is immune."

Matsumoto was the Deputy Legal Counsel for the State Controller's Office. On September 18, she filed a graphic seven-page account of how she says the Controller's Chief of Staff, Dan Goicoechea, harassed women through intimidation.

"I was brand new to my career," Matsumoto said. "It was the first job I had out of law school. I didn't know what to expect, but I just had this gut feeling all along that this was not right."

The State of Idaho settled Matsumoto's tort claim Thursday, Dec. 7. She was awarded $83,000.

As part of the settlement, the office has agreed not to rehire Goicoechea within the next five years, and to provide staff training on discrimination and harassment.

Matsumoto say she hopes her situation inspires victims of workplace harassment to speak up, and for employers to create safe work environments. 

So far, she says she has yet to receive a personal apology from Goicoechea.

"I hope it's been a learning experience for him and that he can take something away from it," Matsumoto said. "I know I've learned and I've changed, and I'm ready for it to just be a chapter, and close the chapter in this."

In reaching a settlement, the Controller's Office says it's not admitting liability.

Matsumoto has since found new employment with a private law firm.