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Former Senate aide names state in gender discrimination lawsuit

A former Minnesota Senate aide has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit claiming he was fired for an affair with then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. However, he states he was treated differently than female employees, because women who have affairs with state legislators are not fired. The aide believes this was a wrongful termination and that he should have been offered a job transfer instead of being fired.

The aide named the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Senate and a top Senate administrative official as defendants in the lawsuit, with causes of action including gender discrimination, invasion of privacy and defamation. He also alleges emotional distress as a result of the firing and the unfair treatment.

The Senate Secretary fired the aide from his $90,000 a year job as a communications director for the Republican Caucus shortly after other senators confronted Koch about the affair. Koch's attorneys state that she believes the aide's firing was related to the affair. Koch resigned her leadership post and has stated she will not seek re-election.

Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, sex is a protected class, meaning it is illegal to treat someone differently on the job because they are a male or a female. The aide filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and obtained a right-to-sue letter before he filed the lawsuit. Filing the administrative claim is the first step in a gender discrimination case.

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 also forbids sex discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring or firing, prohibiting treating anyone unfavorably because of their sex.

Source: StarTribune, "Ex-aide in Minn. Senate Sues State Over Firing After Affair with Leading Republican Lawmaker," Brian Bakst, July 23, 2012

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