Articles Posted in Whistleblower

New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees from adverse action after he or she reports illegal or unethical activity. There are several elements to a CEPA claim, including a reasonable belief that the employer was engaging in unsavory acts. The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently analyzed what constitutes sufficient evidence of a reasonable belief an employer is engaging in prohibited activity, in case in which it found sufficient evidence for the case to withstand summary judgment. If you faced adverse employment action, including termination, after you engaged in protected whistleblower activity, you should meet with a seasoned New Jersey whistleblower attorney to discuss your case and what you must show to recover damages.

The Plaintiff’s Employment with the Defendant

The plaintiff accepted a position with the defendant to work as a regional manager. The defendant is a company that sells and designs business solutions and infrastructure functions for hospitals. The defendant also sponsors conferences that provide courses for healthcare providers to learn new strategies for the utilization of the defendant’s products. The defendant alleges it had concerns from the onset of the plaintiff’s employment, regarding the plaintiff’s responsiveness and level of engagement with his team. The plaintiff refutes these allegations.

There are many classes that are protected from employment discrimination under both state and federal law. While some classes, such as race and gender, are obvious, it is not always clear whether other subsets of the population qualify as protected classes.

Recently, the United States District Court of New Jersey analyzed whether ethnicity or national origin are protected classes, ultimately ruling that a claim alleging discrimination based on ethnicity is actionable under the law. If your employer discriminated against you based on your ethnicity or ancestry, you may be owed damages and you should speak with an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding the discriminatory acts.

Discriminatory Acts of Plaintiff’s Employer 

The plaintiff, who is Slovenian, worked for the defendant employers, who owned a coin and stamp collecting business. The plaintiff alleged the defendants repeatedly told him to “act more Jewish” and to use a different first name or he would be fired. They also disparaged him for his Slovenian ancestry and told him Slovenians were “low-life” and were not respected. The defendants also forced the plaintiff to engage in a fraudulent stamp altering scheme, threatening to revoke his immigration bond if he did not keep the forgery a secret.

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Employees are protected under both federal and state law from retaliatory action for reporting the unethical or illegal conduct of their employers. Recovering under a whistleblowing claim can be difficult, as it requires the employee to prove both a retaliatory action and that any explanation the employer offers for the action is mere pretext.

The Superior Court of New Jersey recently explained that while a reduction in work duties is evidence of retaliatory action, a plaintiff must nonetheless provide evidence to refute an employer’s allegations that the reduction was justified for the claim to survive. If your employer unjustly reduced your work duties in retaliation for whistleblowing in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), you should meet with an experienced New Jersey whistleblower attorney to discuss whether you may be able to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Employment

The plaintiff worked as the director of the education opportunity fund (EOF) for the defendant university. Her duties included oversight of the budget. Shortly after she was hired, the plaintiff discovered that EOF funds were allegedly being used to pay the salaries of non-EOF staff, which she reported. The issue was remedied, but the plaintiff was no longer able to access the budget, and her other responsibilities were drastically reduced. While she was still responsible for reviewing the budget and certain expenditures, she felt that her supervisor intended to make her job more difficult if she did not review the budget as submitted. The plaintiff was never forced to approve the budget or threatened with adverse action if she did not approve it, however.

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In pursuing any claim, it is important to act in a timely manner. The deadlines and manner in which complaints alleging retaliatory action for protected whistleblower activity must be filed vary depending on the nature of the job and the employer. The failure to ensure an administrative complaint is mailed or received in the time required by law can result in the waiver of the right to recover.

The New Jersey District Court recently dismissed a whistleblower case due to the untimely filing of an administrative complaint, and in doing so, explained the manner in which the date of delivery is determined. If you believe your employer engaged in retaliatory tactics in violation of state or federal whistleblower laws, you should consult a skilled New Jersey whistleblower attorney to help you formulate a plan to seek damages.

Factual Scenario

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant railroad transportation company as a conductor and brakeman. He alleged the defendant placed emphasis on productivity over compliance with the rules of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Specifically, he was encouraged by his supervisors to follow the rules less stringently. The plaintiff claimed he vigilantly followed the rules set forth by the FRA but was penalized for doing so via a reduction in his lunch periods and threats. He initially alerted the defendant’s internal investigation office regarding the retaliatory threats in October 2015 and he was advised in November 2015, that no action would be taken.

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If an employee feels his or her employer has taken adverse employment action against them in retaliation for whistleblowing, the employee can file a civil claim against the employer under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). For an employee to prevail on a CEPA claim, they must prove several components, one of which is to show they reasonably believed the employer’s conduct violated a law, regulation or public policy.

As recently set forth by a New Jersey Appellate court, when an employee alleging a CEPA claim based on a violation of a public policy fails to identify a source of authority setting forth the policy he or she believed the employer allegedly violated, it can be fatal to the employee’s claim. If you suspect your employer took adverse employment action against you in retaliation for whistleblowing activity, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced New Jersey whistleblower attorney to discuss the facts of your case and whether you may be able to pursue damages.

Facts Regarding Employee’s Employment

Allegedly, the employee received a copy of a letter discussing two of his co-workers’ escorting civilians at a high speed without authorization. He gave a copy of the letter to his supervisor, who told the employee that the letter did not exist and told the employee not to bring it up again. The supervisor did not explicitly direct the employee to destroy the letter, but the employee understood he was being advised to dispose of it.

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