Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign has hired a New Jersey human resources firm to help foster an inclusive workplace culture and hold sexual harassment training after Murphy’s first campaign faced allegations of having a toxic work environment, especially for women.
Culturupt, a South Orange firm founded by attorney Ritu Pancholy, will implement an HR program that includes mandatory sexual harassment and implicit bias trainings for campaign staff members and consultants, the campaign announced. The company will also create a code of conduct for the campaign, develop ways to investigate and resolve workplace issues, and set up a system to discipline and terminate employees and consultants.
“Running a successful campaign means building a healthy and empowering workplace culture based on respect, inclusion, and professionalism,” campaign manager Mollie Binotto said. “We’re excited to partner with Ritu and Culturupt to ensure that Murphy for Governor 2021 adheres to the highest standards of workplace conduct and HR best practices. Building an inclusive and welcoming work environment is our highest priority.”
Added Pancholy: “Now, more than ever, creating the right culture and environment in a campaign is critical. Taking these proactive steps to build a respectful culture in the workplace at the start of the campaign will ensure that it remains a priority throughout the campaign.”
Last February, Murphy — an avowed progressive Democrat — apologized to “those we failed” during his successful 2017 campaign for New Jersey governor and promised that “any future campaign” he’s a part of “will lead the nation in progressive workforce policies and be a model of a respectful workplace.”
Roginsky claimed she was fired from Murphy’s campaign after telling the governor about the work environment. Campaign officials said she was “separated” from the campaign due to “irreconcilable political and professional differences.”
Other women who worked the campaign made similar complaints, including one who accused a campaign official of throwing a chair against a wall.
And Katie Brennan, a former campaign volunteer who now works in Murphy’s administration, sued the state and Murphy’s campaign over how the governor’s inner circle responded to allegations that a campaign official raped her. Brennan settled her lawsuit last May.
In response to the criticism against Murphy, former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli — one of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination to face the governor in November — announced last year he was installing a policy aiming to prevent and respond to any discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in his own campaign.
Meanwhile, Ciattarelli and former Republican State Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt, another GOP candidate for governor, both said they oppose non-disclosure agreements for campaign staffers and consultants.