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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Murphy announces more workplace harassment reforms

Weinberg bill would mandate anti-harassment training, policies

By Nikita Biryukov, February 18 2020 3:02 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced a bill reforming the state’s anti-workplace harassment laws Tuesday.

The measure, which is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, changes the standard of a severe or pervasive harassment to make clear that a single instance of harassment, which does not have to be physical in nature, can create a hostile work environment.

“With this legislation, New Jersey has the opportunity to set a high standard for progressive workforce policies and give marginalized voices the ability to hold perpetrators accountable,” Murphy said. “My Administration fully understands our obligation to lead by example in this effort, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to build toward a stronger, fairer workplace environment for all New Jerseyans.”

The measure further requires all of the state’s employers implement anti-harassment policies and trainings. Firms with 50 or more employees will be required to report the number of workplace harassment, discrimination or retaliation complaints to the state.

“These are all steps forward,” Weinberg said. “I will be working with the Governor’s Office and hope I will have his support to suggest other changes to current law that will make certain we have made the necessary strides to really offer strong protection.”

The measure would also expand the statute of limitations for civil suits filed under the Law Against Discrimination from two years to three and increases the window to file a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights from 180 days to a year.

The bill would also provide unpaid interns and domestic workers protections under the Law Against Discrimination.

The Department of Community Affairs and the Division of Gaming Enforcement are separately implementing non-legislative policies to review how the state’s professional boards manage harassment complaints and tally incidents in the gaming industry.

“We’re at a critical moment of public reckoning here in New Jersey, with an increased level of understanding of the ways power and control impact the lives of New Jerseyans across sectors,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Centering the lived experiences of individuals impacted by discrimination and harassment at work is essential as we create survivor-centered reforms.”

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