New Jersey employment law in the public sector contains few more contentious areas than the confidentiality of the disciplinary and personnel records of law enforcement officers. A trio of published New Jersey State and Federal court opinions have shed light on this contentious and evolving area of the law.
In re Attorney General Law Enforcement Directives: Disciplinary Records
The Legislature has tasked the New Jersey Attorney General with supervising law enforcement throughout the state. In 2020, in the midst of the George Floyd protests, the New Jersey Attorney General used that authority to issue two directives which would release the names of law enforcement officers who have committed violations resulting in “major discipline,” and to issue summaries of the underlying complaints and discipline imposed. Although the directives apply to all State and local jurisdictions, they define “major discipline” similarly to New Jersey civil service law: suspension of greater than five days, demotion, or termination. The Attorney General’s given reasons for the directives were to “promote trust, transparency and accountability.”