Taxpayers who call the IRS for advice should have a reasonable expectation that their call will not be broadcast on Howard Stern's radio show, according to a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts this week. In the lawsuit, Judith Barrigas says she called the IRS to discuss a private tax matter in 2015, only to discover that IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe was on the phone to the satellite radio Howard Stern Show on another line during their 45-minute call—and much of their conversation had been broadcast to the show's 1.2 million listeners, Courthouse News reports. Barrigas is suing both Stern and the IRS, saying personal information including her phone number and tax details were shared with Stern's listeners.
"While on the phone with Agent Forsythe, Mrs. Barrigas suddenly began to receive a barrage of text messages and phone calls from unknown callers/individuals," telling her that her phone number had been aired on Stern's show, the lawsuit states, per the Hollywood Reporter. It says someone from the Stern show heard the separate Barrigas-Forsythe conversation taking place and decided to air it. The show, the lawsuit alleges, "used the broadcast and the humiliation of Mrs. Barrigas as a source of amusement for their listeners." Barrigas is seeking punitive damages for invasion of privacy. Forsythe was placed on administrative leave, per the lawsuit. (Stern is worried about his friend, the current president.)