On July 30, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni ordered the City of Long Branch (Monmouth County) to turn over to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disciplinary files of Police Lieutenant Lyndon B. Johnson, who is African-American, as well similar files on six Caucasian officers. The EEOC alleges that Johnson was “subjected to different and harsher disciplinary measures than similarly situated white colleagues who committed the same or similar alleged infractions.” The EEOC claims that it needs the files to determine whether Johnson was in fact treated more harshly because of his race. (While the nature of the conduct that resulted in Johnson’s disciplined is undisclosed, the minutes of the Civil Service Commission’s November 20, 2013 meeting indicates that he was suspended without pay on December 12, 2012.)
The City claimed that it never resisted disclosure of the disciplinary files. Rather, it wanted the EEOC to assure the City that it would not let Johnson see the six Caucasian officers’ files. Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni, who expressed that she was “perplexed by the EEOC’s failure to recognize the officers’ privacy interests and its refusal to simply agree to” the City’s confidential requests, ordered disclosure of the files to the EEOC but also required the EEOC to prevent Johnson from seeing the other six officers’ files.
On August 15, 2015, the EEOC appealed Bongiovanni’s ruling, claiming that it should be able to disclose information in the six Caucasian officers’ files to Johnson or his attorney.
By John Paff
Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org