Rape probe of Murphy administration inspires 10 proposed laws
TRENTON — Ten bills changing how the state manages gubernatorial transitions and handles workplace discrimination and harassment complaints that resulted from a legislative investigation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration were advanced Tuesday by an Assembly committee.
The bills resulted from the Legislative Select Oversight Committee inquiry into how Murphy’s team mishandled rape allegations from a former campaign volunteer turned state worker, Katie Brennan, against a senior campaign adviser turned Schools Development Authority executive, Al Alvarez.
Republicans criticized Murphy as they voted for the bill package.
“There were significant failures of leadership by this administration – and bordering on, as I think our colleagues found, deliberate kind of derelictions of duty,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris. “The negligence bordering on intentional wrongdoing that was committed by the transition team and the Murphy administration was appalling.”
“It boggles the mind that we have to create legislation to have staff tell the governor, in this case, about a rape,” said Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-Bergen. “It makes no sense that this wouldn’t be something that would automatically happen with anyone.”
“It’s kind of sad that we have to legislate something that could have been handled very easily in my opinion as a former labor commissioner and someone on the transition team. But here we are,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex.
Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, applauded the package of bills though said some need technical amendments. Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Essex, who co-chaired the oversight committee, said there will be “some slight tweaks.”
“These bills actually do reflect New Jersey’s strong commitment to ensuring we’re providing safe work environments for our government workers,” Teffenhart said. “These bills signify that we actually are able to talk the talk and walk the walk here in New Jersey.”
“The sponsors of these bills certainly have set the stage for us to advance critical policy reform to ensure we are crystal clear about the pathways to justice that are available to employees who have experienced workplace discrimination, harassment and assault,” she said.
The bills are:
A5623/S3583: Applies law governing equal employment opportunity and affirmative action to gubernatorial transition staff members.
A5624/S3975: Requires that State employee serve as Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action officer for gubernatorial transitions.
A5625/S3976: Requires payment of expenses related to background investigations for certain gubernatorial transition positions.
A5626/S3977: Requires disclosure by applicants for State employment of previous or ongoing criminal investigations.
A5627/S3978: Grants authority for human resource management of employees of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority to Civil Service Commission.
A5628/S3979: Requires Civil Service Commission establish standardize recordkeeping and retention requirements with regard to unclassified State employees.
A5629/S3980: Clarifies provisions concerning disclosure of existence and content of discrimination or harassment complaints.
A5630/S3981: Requires Civil Service Commission to establish and maintain hotline for State employees to submit reports of workplace discrimination and harassment.
A5631/S3982: Specifies certain requirements for State agency review of complaint of workplace discrimination.
A5632/S3983: Requires certain public employees receive additional training to manage harassment or discrimination complaints.