Former Republican Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb and the Minnesota Senate on Monday began confidential settlement talks at the U.S. courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

A judge ordered the two sides into closed-door negotiations to resolve Brodkorb’s gender bias lawsuit.

Brodkorb was fired last year hours after then-Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch stepped down from her leadership post, admitting the two were romantically involved.

As the Senate GOP's former communications chief, Brodkorb argues he was treated differently than female employees who had trysts with male legislative leaders and did not lose their jobs. The Senate contends Brodkorb, an often combative GOP operative who frequent sparred with Senators, was an at-will employee who could be let go at anytime.

The judge slapped a gag order on the two sides, so neither Brodkorb nor Senate leaders are commenting.

The negotiations could drag on through the election, prolonging what has been a public relations headache as the GOP fights to hold control of the state Senate.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for any settlement. Brodkorb's salary was about $94,000 at the time he was fired.


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