Senate Dems approve $110K legal settlement with ex-staffer who alleged discrimination

Under the settlement, the Minnesota Senate will pay Melin a lump sum of $110,000.

Carly Melin served three terms in the Minnesota House.

Democrats in the Rules Committee of the Minnesota Senate approved a proposed legal settlement Tuesday with a former staffer of theirs, Carly Melin. Once a chief of staff for the Senate Democrats, Melin alleged that the Minnesota Senate engaged in marital discrimination.

In November of 2021, Melin was hired as the chief of staff for the DFL Caucus in the Minnesota Senate. In that capacity, Melin, a former legislator, was one of the most powerful and influential people working at the Capitol.

However, Melin officially left her job as chief of staff on Feb. 2, 2024, the same day Sen. Kari Dziedzic announced she was stepping down as the majority leader of the Senate after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Sen. Erin Murphy, D-St. Paul, was elected Senate majority leader on Feb. 6.

Following her departure, Melin accused the Minnesota Senate of engaging in marital discrimination, thus violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The former chief of staff claimed that she was fired because of the “actions or beliefs” of her spouse, Joe Radinovich.

A former state representative, Radinovich signed a letter in October criticizing the anti-Israel wing of his party in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on the Jewish state.

He also ran Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s 2021 reelection campaign and now serves as campaign manager for Don Samuels’ congressional campaign. Samuels is challenging U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar for a second time after narrowly losing to the progressive incumbent in the 2022 Democratic primary.

Despite stepping down as majority leader, Sen. Dziedzic has stayed on in the Minnesota Senate and continues to represent northeast Minneapolis.

At Tuesday’s hearing of the Minnesota Senate Rules Committee, Senate Majority Leader Murphy spoke on behalf of the institution saying, “The Minnesota Senate denies any wrongdoing, and does not agree that Ms. Melin is the victim of discrimination.”

However, the majority leader added, “if we do not settle this matter now and it proceeds to litigation, the cost to the State of Minnesota, win or lose, will be significantly more than the settlement amount, and it will involve ongoing distractions from the important work we have to do.”

Serving as counsel for the Minnesota Senate, attorney Judith Langevin laid out the specifics of the proposed settlement in Tuesday’s committee hearing. She revealed that Melin claimed her “direct supervisor, Sen. Dziedzic, was motivated by considerations of Ms. Melin’s spouse’s actions or beliefs.”

Under the settlement, the Minnesota Senate will pay Melin a lump sum of $110,000. In return, Melin will agree to release the Minnesota Senate from any and all claims, known or unknown.

Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, questioned why the Senate should agree to a settlement if the Senate is claiming the institution did nothing wrong.

Majority Leader Murphy addressed Sen. Johnson saying that approving the legal settlement was “protecting the very nature of this institution.” Furthermore, the majority leader said the settlement would limit the “exposure” of the Senate, and limit the financial cost “for Minnesotans, the taxpayers.”

“This is the most prudent course for us,” Murphy added.

Minority Leader Johnson said most Republican senators did not even know this matter was going on behind the scenes. Calling the situation “a matter of principle,” the minority leader said he was having a tough time supporting the proposed settlement. The Republican lawmaker eventually voted against approving the agreement.

According to a staffer who spoke at the hearing, the Minnesota Senate has already spent roughly $93,000 in legal fees related to the case.

In the end, the committee voted to approve the proposed legal settlement on a party-line vote of 6-3; all Democrats voting in favor, all present Republicans voting against.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.