The #MeToo movement has raised public awareness on sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The #MeToo movement has also forced members of Congress and high-profile figures in the media and entertainment industries, such as film producer Harvey Weinstein, to lose their jobs. The Assembly State and Local Government Committee recently approved bill S3766 earlier this month to broaden the scope of the pension-forfeiture bill. Some crimes that could already result in employees forfeiting their pension include money laundering, extortion, bribery, perjury, official misconduct, and tampering with public records.
The pension-forfeiture bill was introduced in April 2018. Added to the list of existing offenses that can cost employees their retirement benefits are harassment, sexual assault, and lewdness. An employee is specifically defined in the bill as a person who holds or has held any public office, position, or employment, elective, or appointive under the government of this state or any agency or political subdivision.
Employees that fall into these categories and are convicted of any of the crimes shall forfeit all their pension or retirement benefits earned as a member of any state or locally-administered pension fund or retirement system. This holds true where employees participated at the time of the offense and which covered the office, position, or employment involved in the offense.
Sponsors Demonstrate Take Action Approach
Assemblyman, John Armato, and Assemblywomen, Carol Murphy and Patricia Egan Jones, sponsored the bill. Armato affirmed that if elected officials and public workers betray the trust of the public, they should not benefit from the taxpayer-funded pension. Jones declared that this effort will display a take-action approach to New Jersey residents, amid the #MeToo movement.
Opponents Voice Concerns About Disproportionality
Assemblyman, Michael Patrick Carroll, voted against the bill, claiming that the punishment does not fit the offense. He pointed out that not only is the penalty excessive, but in New Jersey, sexual harassment offenses are charged as petty disorderly person offenses with a fine. Therefore, sexual harassment charges should not result in the loss of pension earned over a lifetime. If the bill is to become a law, the bill will need to be passed in the full Assembly and Senate and signed by Governor Phil Murphy.
New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you believe you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, contact a New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our sexual harassment lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case and determine your legal options. We have the knowledge and experience to aggressively defend your rights through every step of the process, from filing a claim to any necessary litigation. We are in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas, including throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact us online or call us today at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation.