In a move that could pre-empt a backroom deal with former Murphy administration official Al Alvarez, State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) is introducing legislation that would require out-of-court settlements involving state employees to be made public.
“Taxpayers have a right to know when public dollars are used to settle claims involving government employees, including matters such as wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or a hostile work environment,” said Corrado. “Transparency will deter bad actors and improper conduct.”
Attorneys for Alvarez hinted today that the former Schools Development Authority chief of staff might have a wrongful termination claim against the state after the Middlesex County prosecutor cleared him of sexual assault allegations.
“Although he has now been cleared by two independent investigations, his vindication seems conciliatory when compared with the damage that has already been caused,” Alvarez attorneys John Hogan and Stacy Ann Biancamano said in a statement released this morning. “These unsubstantiated allegations led to Mr. Alvarez being unfairly forced to resign and have devastated his promising career, not to mention the emotional toll this process has taken upon him and his loved ones.”
Under Corrado’s proposed bill, the state could not settle any claims with an employee without full public transparency.
“Settlements are too often used to sweep matters under the rug without ever solving the actual problem,” Corrado said. “Members of this administration have shown that they cannot be relied upon to remember pertinent details. We cannot and should not allow taxpayer money to be doled out under the cover of darkness in a cloud of secrecy. Bottom line, it’s pretty simple: if you’re going to use public money for settlements, then the details need to be public.”