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Dayle Nolan Larkin Hoffman 1500 Wells Fargo Plaza 7900 Xerxes Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55431 Senator Dave Senjem 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Capitol Building, Room 121 St. Paul, MN 55155-1606 RE: Notice of Claims for Michael Brodkorb (Confidential) Minnesota Attorney General’s Office 1400 Bremer Tower 445 Minnesota Street St. Paul, MN 55101
Dear Interested Parties: Please be advised that the undersigned represents Michael Brodkorb (hereinafter “Mr. Brodkorb”). Any and all further correspondence related to this matter should be addressed to my office. In December of 2008, Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem hired Mr. Brodkorb as Communications Director for the Minnesota Senate Minority Caucus. In 2010, after Republicans took partisan control of the Minnesota Senate, Senator Amy Koch (hereinafter “Senator Koch”) was elected the Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate. Mr. Brodkorb transitioned to the role Communications Director for the Minnesota Senate Majority Caucus, filling the position created by the previous administration, which was controlled by the Senate Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. In September 2011, Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, through Chief of Staff Cullen Sheehan, became aware that Mr. Brodkorb was involved in an intimate relationship with Senator Koch. On the evening of December 14, 2011, Senator Michel along with Senator Chris Gerlach, Senator Claire Robling and Senator David Hahn met with Senator Koch at the Minneapolis Club. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the above Senators’ knowledge of an intimate relationship between Senator Koch and Mr. Brodkorb, and their request that she resign immediately and Mr. Brodkorb be terminated from his position. Senator Hahn specifically stated at the meeting that Mr. Brodkorb would need to be terminated from his position, and he stated that Cal Ludeman, Secretary of the Minnesota Senate, would be contacted after Senator Koch resigned so that Cal Ludeman could terminate Mr. Brodkorb.
RE: Notice of Claims for Michael Brodkorb (Confidential) Page Two The same group of Senators met the following morning on December 15, 2011, and had further discussions including requesting Senator Koch step down as Majority Leader. Additional conversations took place regarding the employment status of Mr. Brodkorb and it was determined that Mr. Brodkorb needed to be terminated because of his intimate relationship with Senator Koch. On December 15, 2011, Senator Koch announced her resignation from her position as Senate Majority Leader and indicated she would not seek re-election. On December 16, 2011, Cal Ludeman met with Mr. Brodkorb at a public restaurant and informed him that he was terminated from his position with the Senate, effective immediately. At this meeting Cal Ludeman stated: “This is off the record Michael, but those . . . there’s two issues that related to the events of yesterday and the question has been posed as early as last night about your status...” The two issues were the resignation of Senator Koch as Senate Majority Leader the previous day, and the fact that Mr. Brodkorb had an intimate relationship with Senator Koch. Prior to illegally terminating Mr. Brodkorb, Cal Ludeman and Republican Leaders were aware that there was an intimate relationship between Mr. Brodkorb and Senator Koch. Cal Ludeman did not offer Mr. Brodkorb the opportunity to transfer to a different position or accept a different position before illegally terminating Mr. Brodkorb from his position as Director of Communications on December 16, 2011. Mr. Brodkorb has evidence that similarly situated female legislative employees, from both political parties, were not terminated from their employment positions despite intimate relationships with male legislators. It is clear that Mr. Brodkorb was terminated based on his gender. He intends to depose all of the female legislative staff employees who participated in intimate relationships, as well as the legislators who were party to those intimate relationships, in support of his claims of gender discrimination. In addition, it is anticipated that Senator Koch will testify that Mr. Brodkorb’s employment was terminated by the Republican Leadership because of the intimate relationship between Senator Koch and Mr. Brodkorb, as will other legislators and legislative staffers. The termination of Michael Brodkorb violated federal, state, and local law. Under federal, state, and local law, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee based on that employee’s gender. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. esq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Minn. Stat. § 363A.01, et. esq.; St Paul Code of Ordinances Chapter 183, esq. al. Both males and females fall within “protected class” for purposes of prosecuting claims of intentional discrimination in employment under the law. Ridler v. Olivia Public School System No. 653, 432 N.W.2d 777, 781 (Minn. Ct. App. 1988); see also Freeman v. Ace Telephone Ass’n, 404 F.Supp.2d 1127, 2237 (Dist. Minn. 2005). In order to establish a prima facie case of gender discrimination under Title VII or the Minnesota Human Rights Act, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he/she (1) is a member of a protected group, (2) was qualified for his/her position, (3) suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) circumstances exist which create an inference of discrimination; the fourth element can be met by demonstrating that similarly-situated employees of the opposite sex were treated differently. Carter v. Dayton Rogers Mfg. Co., 543 F.Supp.2d 1026 (Dist. Minn. 2008).
RE: Notice of Claims for Michael Brodkorb (Confidential) Page Three The elements and analysis of gender discrimination under Title VII and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) are the same. Carter v. Dayton Rogers Mfg. Co., 543 F.Supp.2d 1026 (Dist. Minn. 2008). Mr. Brodkorb’s illegal termination meets all of the elements of a gender discrimination claim. First, Mr. Brodkorb is a “protected class” member because he is a male. Second, based on the fact that Mr. Brodkorb never had any performance issues prior to his termination on December 16, 2011, Mr. Brodkorb was qualified for his position. Mr. Brodkorb’s personnel file contained no record of any performance deficiencies. Third, the State of Minnesota took adverse action against Mr. Brodkorb by terminating him from his employment on December 16, 2011. Fourth, Mr. Brodkorb was terminated under circumstances giving rise to an inference of gender discrimination. On December 16, 2011, Cal Ludeman essentially admitted that the reason for Mr. Brodkorb’s termination was his intimate relationship with Senator Koch. As indicated above, female legislative staff employees engaged in intimate relationships with other legislators, and the female legislative staff employees were not terminated from their employment. Conversely, Mr. Brodkorb was terminated for having an intimate relationship with Senator Koch. The timing of the events stated above are extremely suspect, and the evidence shows that Mr. Brodkorb was, in fact, treated differently based of his gender. It is important to note that if Mr. Brodkorb were to prevail on his claims, Villaume & Schiek, P.A. would be requesting reimbursement for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs (including expert fees). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e; see also Minn. Stat. § 363A.33, subd. 7; Johns v. Harborage I, Ltd., 585 N.W.2d 853 (Minn. Ct. App. 1998). Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 3.732, subd. 1, definitions section, the Senate is an entity of the State of Minnesota. As a result of the illegal termination, my client is demanding damages in excess of $500,000.00. Lastly, Mr. Brodkorb reserves the right to include other tort claims, including but not limited to, invasion of privacy claims against then-interim Senate Majority Leader Senator Geoff Michel, then-Assistant Senate Majority Leader David Hann, then-Senate Majority Whip Chris Gerlach, former Chief of Staff of the Senate Majority Caucus Cullen Sheehan, and Senate Committee Administrator Aaron Cocking. Prior to filing a Summons and Complaint in this case in District Court, to save on expenses and to avoid unnecessary publicity, I suggest that we sit down for early mediation on this matter in order to try and reach a global settlement. As you are most likely aware, we would be required to mediate this matter via a Scheduling Order. I have had success with Allen Oliesky or Michael DeCoursey as mediators in the past; however, I am open to any suggestions regarding a mediator. If you do not want to mediate this matter within the next month or two please advise me in writing on or before March 23, 2012.
RE: Notice of Claims for Michael Brodkorb (Confidential) Page Fourth Please also state whether you would accept service of a Summons and Complaint if you determine you do not want to mediate this matter. If you do not agree to accept service I will be requesting that the District Court assess any costs associated with proper service. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Sincerely, VILLAUME & SCHIEK, P.A.
Philip G. Villaume Attorney at Law cc: Michael Brodkorb (via mail only) Gregory J. Walsh, Esq. (via mail only)