Former Minnesota Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb has officially filed his long-threatened lawsuit against the upper chamber, alleging Senate leaders practiced gender discrimination and invaded his privacy when they suddenly fired him from his job last December. He is also suing Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman for defamation.
Brodkorb’s attorney, Phil Villaume, announced his client had filed suit in Ramsey County District Court on Monday after receiving a “right-to-sue” letter from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Brodkorb was fired from the Senate just days after former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch was confronted about having an affair with a staffer and resigned. It was later revealed that Brodkorb, who served as her executive assistant and head of communications, was the staffer in question.
“Mr. Brodkorb continues to be disappointed that this lawsuit needed to be filed,” Villaume said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. Brodkorb and his attorneys are seeking a settlement from the Senate. “Considering that the Minnesota Senate has already spent nearly $100,000 in legal fees simply ‘preparing’ for a lawsuit to be filed must raise significant questions for the taxpayers.”
The 10-count complaint alleges violations of city, state and federal discrimination statues, with gender discrimination being the principal allegation.
“Similarly situated female legislative employees from both political parties were not terminated from their employment positions despite having intimate relationships with male legislators,” the lawsuit reads. “Brodkorb was terminated based on his gender.”
Brodkorb’s attorneys are also going after Ludeman as an “agent of the Senate” for a press release issued in March, in which Ludeman said Brodkorb was trying to “disrupt the work of the Senate,” and “blackmail” or “extort” a payment from the chamber. The lawsuit describes them as “slanderous and libel statements” that have “harmed [Brodkorb’s] reputation and lowered him in the estimation of the political community and the community in general.” That has caused Brodkorb to “incur emotional distress,” according to the lawsuit.
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said the state Senate will head to the courtroom. Earlier this year, the Senate hired employment attorney Dayle Nolan to defend the chamber in the Brodkorb Matter.
“Our attorneys will defend the Minnesota Senate and the Secretary of the Senate from this lawsuit,” Senjem said. “”I believe the Senate has done nothing wrong. In fact, the Senate has acted carefully and appropriately in regards to this employment issue. I am not interested in a mediated settlement, and I believe the Senate will prevail in court.”