ST. PAUL, Minn. — The state has denied unemployment benefits for a Republican Senate staffer who was fired following an affair with the majority leader.
Michael Brodkorb is appealing the decision to reject his claim. Brodkorb’s lawyer, Phil Villaume, told Minnesota Public Radio News for a story Friday that the matter is privileged and private.
“Since Mr. Brodkorb was unlawfully terminated at a public restaurant, representatives in the Minnesota Senate and others in state government have continually violated his privacy rights afforded to him as a state employee.” Villaume said.
Unemployment benefits applications are considered private as is the decision about whether to grant them. But the matter becomes public if a person appeals a denial. A hearing is set for Thursday.
An official with the Department of Employment and Economic Development declined comment on Brodkorb’s case.
Last month, Brodkorb filed a gender discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a precursor to legal action. His lawyers have also suggested they may sue individual senators and Senate employees on various grounds.
Brodkorb was fired in December soon after Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned her leadership post. Brodkorb’s attorneys say they will try to prove he was treated differently as a man who had an affair with a female superior, in contrast to numerous female legislative employees he claims never lost their jobs despite affairs with male legislators. He has threatened to expose other Capitol relationships.
No explanations were offered publicly detailing why Brodkorb’s unemployment application was rejected. But attorneys who work in the field say it usually happens because an employee either quit or committed misconduct.
Bill O’Brien, a lawyer with an expertise in employment law, said Brodkorb may find it difficult to convince an unemployment judge that he is entitled to benefits.
“It’s going to be very difficult for him to make the case that the kind of conduct that he engaged in did not present some sort of misconduct, in my view,” O’Brien said.