Weinberg Urges Governor to Release State Employees from Confidentiality Agreements in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Insider NJ presents the full report of the NJ Legislative Select Oversight Committee concerning the hiring of Albert Alvarez as Chief of Staff at the NJ Schools Development Authority (NJSDA).

Trenton –Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg today urged Governor Phil Murphy to stop state government attorneys from enforcing confidentiality agreements to block plaintiffs and witnesses from testifying in sexual assault and harassment cases.

“Non-disclosure agreements are no longer legal under legislation that I sponsored and the Governor signed into law. Now that that is the case, I would hope that the Governor would take the lead in ensuring that the State’s lawyers no longer try to enforce confidentiality agreements to prevent women from testifying in sexual assault and harassment cases,” Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen) said.

“No employer should be able to stop employees from discussing discrimination or harassment or from providing relevant evidence to others. That was the point of the law the Legislature passed and the Governor signed,” the senator said.

Senator Weinberg said she was disturbed by court papers filed in the Appellate Division of Superior Court alleging that the state government threatened legal action against the plaintiffs and witnesses if they breached non-disclosure agreements to testify in a pair of sexual assault and harassment cases. Their lawyers are seeking to have non-disclosure agreements ruled unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs in the appellate filing are Katie Brennan, the chief of staff for the state Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency who alleged that she was sexually assaulted while working as a volunteer for the Murphy campaign, and Viktoriya Usachenok, who filed a complaint of pervasive sexual harassment against a supervisor at the Treasury Department, where she worked.

“I am gratified that the Governor signed my bill making non-disclosure agreements unenforceable against employees in discrimination, sexual assault and sexual harassment cases,” Senator Weinberg said. “But it is time for the State to start living up to that standard.”

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