Maryland Delegate Jay Jalisi accused of “abusive workplace behavior” in ethics report

Jay Jalisi

The Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics has recommended that Delegate Jay Jalisi be formally reprimanded for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.”

Reprimand recommended for Jay Jalisi

The sixteen page report issued on Monday night describes a pattern of abusive behavior  by the Democrat from Reisterstown, taking place over several years.

“Delegate Jalisi misused his State position to abuse and take advantage of individuals that Delegate Jalisi deemed to be subordinate to him,” it concludes.

The report outlines three key areas of particular concern:

  • “A consistent, repeated pattern of verbal and emotional abuse of staff – both General Assembly staff and other staff with whom he interacted in his role as a legislator.”
  • Failing to attend an anger management course after being instructed to do so by Speaker Michael Busch in August 2018 Jalisi. By not attending the course Jalisi lost the right to employ staff paid by the General Assembly.
  • Despite being repeatedly told Jalisi could not take on paid staff, he hired two additional new aides for the 2019 session. He promised them they would be paid despite General Assembly Human Resources refusing to put them on the payroll.

The report outlines particularly harsh abuse directed by Jalisi to one of his recent hires:

“According to sworn testimony, Delegate Jalisi verbally abused, bullied, and was belligerent with the individual. Delegate Jalisi told the individual that the individual was ‘stupid’ and ‘incompetent,’ pointed his finger in the individual’s face and yelled at the individual, and made the individual stand in the delegate’s office and repeat, ‘I am incompetent. I am incompetent.’ In one incident, after the individual went to the wrong room, Delegate Jalisi told the individual, ‘I am going to fire you if you do this again.’ The individual described the work environment as ‘toxic,’ testified that Delegate Jalisi had ‘no patience’ or ‘self-control,’ and stated that Delegate Jalisi ‘belittled’ the individual.”

Jalisi did terminate the aide in late January, after they had worked a month unpaid.

The full sixteen page report from the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics is available here.

Jalisi: “I’ve been the target of a nasty smear campaign”

Jalisi was not present at the House of Delegates when the report was delivered, but issued a statement to the media.

“Sadly, over the past few months I have been the target of a nasty smear campaign and a sham investigation by a powerful lobby in Annapolis,” he said.

If the vote to reprimand Jalisi is successful, it will not be the first time the Democrat has faced consequences for losing his temper.

In 2015 a Baltimore County judge issued a protective order, forbidding Jalisi from coming into contact with his teenage daughter. She alleged that Jalisi slapped her in the face during an argument.

Jalisi denied the allegations, saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong, I never did, and neither did I agree that I did.”

Following the court order, Speaker Busch removed Jalisi from the House Judiciary committee, which deals with issues of domestic violence.

What happens next?

If the recommendations of yesterday’s report are followed, Jalisi could be facing further punitive measures in future.

If Jalisi continues to refuse to take part in the mandated anger management course, he faces being removed from all committee assignments. This would effectively remove any meaningful legislative power from the Delegate.

The report also concludes with a warning that it is willing to take further action:

“If Delegate Jalisi continues to bully, verbally abuse, retaliate against, or otherwise mistreat his personal staff or other General Assembly staff, refer the matter back to the Ethics Committee for further investigation and additional action if necessary.”

If successful, the move to reprimand Jalisi will be the second time this session that a Maryland Delegate has been disciplined. Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti was censured by the House for using racial slurs to describe a historically black neighborhood in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.


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