Home>Feature>Murphy administration expands gag order in new discrimination policy

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

Murphy administration expands gag order in new discrimination policy

Civil Service Commission changes language after Murphy announcement

By David Wildstein, April 15 2019 4:16 pm

Late changes to a new state workplace discrimination policy touted as “survivor-centered” would discourage victims from speaking up and could lead to the termination of a state employee who discuss the details of an investigation with the media.

The proposed policy published by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission does not match the one released by Gov. Phil Murphy in February.

The new policy, which is nearing the end of a public comment period, changes one critical word: instead of “Failure to comply with this confidentiality directive may result in administrative and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment,” the new policy says “will result.”

“It’s a middle finger to the Me Too movement,” said one senior Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The revisions to the discrimination rules add two more words – and after – in a rules change that says “confidentiality shall be maintained throughout and after the investigative process has been completed.”

Murphy announced changes on how state government will probe sexual harassment allegations amidst an outcry over the handling of Katie Brennan’s allegations that she was raped by a top Murphy aide during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

Last month, Murphy signed landmark legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that makes non-disclosure agreements in discrimination and harassment cases unenforceable.  The proposed rule changes appear to contradict the legislative intent of the new law.

“This is certainly not in the spirit of that law in any way, shape or form,” said Weinberg, who plans to ask the commission to amend their language.  “What was released was inappropriate at best.”

A spokesperson for the Civil Service Commission is looking into the issue.

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One thought on “Murphy administration expands gag order in new discrimination policy

  1. The proposed Civil Service changes would violate the new law signed by Governor Murphy that makes confidentiality of the underlying facts of discrimination, harassment and retaliation unenforceable in agreements. The particular language that is troubling is the insertion of the words “and after” the investigative process “has been completed.” Hopefully, these proposed changes will not be adopted.

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