(Trenton)– Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and Nancy Munoz (R-Union) introduced a ten-part, bi-partisan sponsored bill package to address the concerns of harassment and discrimination reporting practices as well as state hiring processes during a gubernatorial transition. The legislation would also apply to all State employees. All 10 bills cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee Tuesday.
Pintor Marin and Munoz served as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the Legislative Select Oversight Committee.
The panel convened in late October after allegations surfaced by Murphy campaign staffer Katie Brennan of rape against a member of the gubernatorial transition team who later held a senior position in the Administration. The mandate of the committee was to determine appropriate legislative actions, if necessary, that would prevent delay, discourage miscommunication, and protect all State employees upon disclosure of incidents pertaining to discrimination and harassment.
“I am proud of the work we’ve done in the Legislative Select Oversight Committee over the last few months,” said Pintor Marin. “Our findings were clear. Ms. Brennan’s matter was grossly neglected and mishandled. We believe that should another victim come forward in the future, with regard to any gubernatorial transition committee for any Governor, or someone employed by State government, there must be a road map of clear actions to follow to address it fairly and quickly. This bill package will begin to right the wrongs we discovered through our investigation.”
“After receiving hours of testimony from many involved in this matter, much of it conflicted and lacking a paper trail, I believe these bill are the next best steps for the Legislature to advance and prevent Ms. Brennan’s horrific experience from happening to someone else,” said Munoz. “It has become evident that there is more we can do to protect all State workers especially those who are in transition to becoming a State employee.”
Among the ten bills in the package is legislation which will put in place safeguards for prospective employees during gubernatorial transition by: providing a state employee to serve as the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action officer during transition; authorizing payments for background checks under the “Gubernatorial Transition Act”; and amending state equal employment opportunity and affirmative action law to apply to transition staff members.
Measures also direct the Civil Service Commission to establish standardized recordkeeping and retention requirements with regard to unclassified employees; to maintain a hotline for State employees to submit reports of workplace discrimination and harassment; and to create a form requesting disclosure of previous harassment accusations and investigative findings or ongoing criminal investigations concerning sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault. In addition, a bill would grant the Civil Service Commission authority over human resource management of employees at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
Two measures expand training for employees who manage complaints of harassment or discrimination by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute; and require a written record of each complaint, the employee submitting the complaint to be interviewed and given notification if an investigation will be conducted.
The bills now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.