New Jersey’s whistleblower retaliation law, which is called the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), protects employees against serious harassment as a form of retaliation for whistleblowing. The whistleblower retaliation law protects those employees who complain, disclose, or threaten to disclose actions in the workplace that violate the law, a regulation, or a public policy.
An employer violates the law by retaliating against an employee for whistleblowing, including by harassing the employee. There are a number of different ways that an employee can be considered a whistleblower. An employee who discloses to an agency, like the Department of Labor, an illegal practice by the employer is considered a whistleblower. Disclosure to an agency is not the only way to become a whistleblower. Employees who merely threaten to disclose illegal acts can be considered whistleblowers. Employees who complain to a supervisor about illegality or a violation of public policy can also be considered to be whistleblowers.
It is not necessary that the employer’s actions actually violate the law. If there is a direct connection between the employee complaint and a law, regulation, or public policy, the complaint may still be considered protected whistleblowing.
To win a whistleblower harassment retaliation case, it is very important that the employee specifically identify the law, regulation or public policy that has been allegedly violated. Courts can sometimes dismiss whistleblower retaliation cases if the employee does not identify the law, regulation, or public policy that was allegedly violated.
Once an employee establishes that he or she complained about an employer’s violation, the employee must show that he or she was the subject of retaliation. To prove that there is a hostile work environment based on whistleblower retaliation, an employee must show that the conduct was either severe or pervasive. Whistleblower retaliation based on severity must involve outrageous harassment. Whistleblower retaliation based on pervasive conduct involves repeated instances of harassment over time.
An employee who successfully proves whistleblower retaliation based on harassment can become entitled to lost wages, emotional distress damages, attorneys fees and costs, and punitive damages.
Mr. Wronko is an experienced NJ whistleblower attorney. For instance, he successfully resolved a claim in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey in a case in New Jersey Superior Court, Essex County for $100,000. He resolved another claim in New Jersey Superior Court, Burlington County, Burlington, New Jersey for $90,000. If you would like an initial telephone consultation on a potential whistleblower retaliation claim, please call (973) 360-1001.