Two decades after it became a hot-button issue across the nation, sexual harassment remains very much alive within New Jersey state government, reports the Asbury Park Press. State employees filed 913 sexual harassment complaints with state agencies from 2006 through Sept. 12, a pace of nearly 150 per year. Of 78 complaints filed this year, a third were deemed valid by the state. State employees who sued alleging sexual harassment reached 27 settlements totaling $3.9 million in taxpayer dollars from 2006 until late June. Most of the settlements involved alleged harassment by employees of agencies entrusted to enforce the laws, including the State Police and Juvenile Justice Commission.
Despite millions of dollars spent in settlements, state agencies declined to discuss any disciplinary actions that may have been taken against alleged harassers. The Department of Corrections, for example, does not comment on lawsuits, and disciplinary action is not public information, spokeswoman Deirdre Fedkenheuer said. The agency takes all equal-employment issues seriously, “places a high priority on training and prevention, and the department will take remedial action when appropriate,” she said in an email. Many of the state employees and supervisors named in lawsuits remained on the job or retired with pensions.