He Debated Firing the Employee Before He Fired Him

The Washington Times reported today on an odd legal maneuver by former Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton. Dayton has been sued by a former employee, who claims that Dayton fired him when he told the Senator that he needed heart surgery:

Retired Sen. Mark Dayton has been trying to shield himself from a lawsuit by a former congressional aide by using a legal defense so unusual that it has alienated his former colleagues and been scorned by the courts.
Mr. Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat and heir to a department store fortune, at first argued that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause protected him from the lawsuit by a former staffer who alleged he was fired because he suffered from a heart condition.
After the senator left office last year, he changed legal tactics by claiming he could no longer be sued for conduct that occurred when he was an elected official.
That argument was rejected by a federal court last month, but not before Reps. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, and Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the former employee.

The Senate Legal Counsel’s office has filed a brief supporting Dayton’s former employee, too. As far as I can tell, Dayton’s home town newspaper, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, hasn’t reported on the story.
I don’t know what it is with these Friends of the Common Man. The Dayton story is similar to the one about Al Franken that we noted yesterday: Franken flouted New York law by failing to buy workers’ compensation insurance to protect his employees, then dodged New York’s authorities until they finally tracked him down and made him pay a $25,000 penalty. Franken’s story, in turn, was identical to that of Paul Wellstone–the ultimate Friend of the Common Man–who broke the law by choosing not to procure workers’ compensation insurance for his employees during his 2002 Senate campaign. When several employees were killed along with Wellstone in a plane crash, Wellstone’s scofflaw attitude caused Minnesota’s taxpayers to be stuck with most of the cost.
The moral I would draw is, if you have choice between going to work for a skinflint capitalist and a Friend of the Common Man, choose the skinflint capitalist.
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