By: Chantal N Guerriero, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.
New Jersey Assembly Bill 2394 (the “Bill”), recently passed in both houses. The Bill requires law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to establish minority recruitment and selection programs, which shall include an annual reporting requirement. The Bill will further the state’s continued efforts to reform and remediate past discrimination that may have occurred within New Jersey’s state-wide law enforcement agencies and aims to ensure that such law enforcement agencies better reflect New Jersey’s diverse population.
In implementing the minority recruitment and selection programs, the Bill specifically requires law enforcement agencies to make “a good faith effort” to recruit and hire both minorities and females within certain established timeframes. In order to further hold such agencies accountable, the programs must also include methods to evaluate whether the goals have been met, as well as contingency measures in the event that they are not met. Additionally, each county’s prosecutor will be required to annually report the results of their program to the Attorney General, who will monitor the program and in turn report results to the Governor.
The Bill will also require the reports to be published on the Department of Labor’s website, which will allow freedom of access to the information. Each annual report is to include:
(1) the age, gender, race, and ethnicity of the law enforcement officers currently appointed to the law enforcement agency;
(2) the age, gender, race, and ethnicity of applicants for a law enforcement officer position in the preceding calendar year;
(3) the age, gender, race, and ethnicity of applicants appointed to the agency in the preceding calendar year;
(4) the reasons for denying applicants an appointment to the law enforcement agency; and
(5) the age, gender, race, and ethnicity of each law enforcement officer promoted within the agency in the preceding calendar year, including the position to which the officer was promoted.
The Bill, coupled with New Jersey’s strong anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination laws, will ensure transparency and accountability for agencies that may not have previously had as much oversight. The longstanding New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate or retaliate against an employee based on a protected category, such as gender, race, or national origin. Retaliation and discrimination can come in many forms, such as differential treatment, offensive commentary, or wrongful termination. As such, even after these minority recruitment programs are put in place, each law enforcement agency will be required to treat their employees in a manner that complies with the LAD.
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