A federal lawsuit filed by a former Minnesota State Senate aide alleging wrongful termination due to gender discrimination has been narrowed by a federal judge. The state requested the dismissal of three counts, included allegations of defamation, and this request was accepted by the judge. The former aide’s lawsuit alleging one violation of federal law and one violation of state law remain.
The aide was fired after Senate leaders discovered his affair with the then-majority leader who has since left office. The former aide is suing the Senate, the state of Minnesota and the Senate secretary at the time for employment discrimination and wrongful termination. He claims that female aides having affairs with male legislators were not subject to termination.
Senate officials claim that the former aide was not wrongfully terminated because he was an at will employee. The federal judge dismissed two claims for defamation and one constitutional rights claim. The claim for civil rights was dropped for lack of merit and on procedural grounds. The court also accepted requests from attorneys for the defendants to dismiss any unnamed employees of the Senate and the state of Minnesota from the lawsuit.
Under Minnesota law, any employee wrongfully terminated because of discrimination can file a lawsuit against management. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discrimination and wrongful termination will also accept complaints. However, many employers hire workers at will, which means that both employer and employee can end an employment relationship at any time.
Wrongful terminations are protected by federal law and state law. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to engage in any kind of discrimination — age, gender, religion or origin — against employees. State and federal laws also prevent retaliation by employers during the course of employment for complaints made by employees against management.
Source: TwinCities.com, “Michael Brodkorb lawsuit: Judge narrows scope of wrongful termination case,” Amy Forliti, Feb. 13, 2013