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Friday, April 19, 2019

I Reported Business “Irregularities” to My Employer and Was Fired, Do I Have a Whistleblower Claim?

An employee’s reporting of a business “irregularity” could be considered legally “protected conduct” in some instances.

Whistleblower claims under New Jersey Law and certain federal laws can include instances when an employee reports certain business “irregularities” to their employer and then in response the employer commits what is known as an “adverse act” against the employee, such as a demotion, transfer to less desirable position and distant location, or firing. An employee’s reporting of business irregularities may be legally “protected conduct” in some instances thereby prohibiting the employer from retaliating against the employee.

Whistleblower retaliation litigation can be lengthy and complex. This firm, Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law, has represented both white collar and blue collar whistleblowers over the years against state governmental entities and private businesses and has a successful track record in recovering money for its clients.

Not all reporting of “business irregularities” however would be considered “protected conduct” under New Jersey law. An employee who brings a cause of action pursuant to New Jersey’s Whistleblower statute, The Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 34:19-3 et seq, must first demonstrate four elements:

(1) the employee must have reasonably believed that his or her employer's conduct was violating either a law, rule, or regulation promulgated pursuant to law (which includes in cases when the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, that the employer’s conduct constitutes improper quality of patient care) or  is fraudulent or criminal or a clear mandate of public policy; (2) the employee performed a whistle-blowing activity described in § 34:19-3(c) which may include when an employee objects to, or refuses to participate in any such activity, policy or practice; (3) the employer committed an adverse employment action against employee; (4) a causal connection exists between the employee’s reporting, complaints, i.e., whistle-blowing activity, and the employer’s adverse employment action.

For the Reporting of a “Business Irregularity” To Be Legally “Protected Conduct”, Elements (1) and (2) Must Both Be Satisfied

For the reporting of a business “irregularity” to be considered legally protected whistleblowing, elements (1) and (2) must both be present. Some examples of element number 1 (the employee reasonably believed that the employer’s business irregularity was breaking a law, etc.) are:

  • A corporation’s Vice President reports to the CEO that the CFO is departing from usual reporting practices and is no longer doing accurate representations in economic reports to the CEO, mischaracterized his findings and the company’s economic status.
  • An employee for a governmental entity complains that his supervisor changed his schedule and now orders him to drive public transportation vehicles in hours beyond the allowable DOT regulations.
  • An employee for a construction company complains that his new supervisor no longer orders him to dispose of toxic waste according to their usual and expensive past business practices but instead orders him to dispose of toxic chemicals in a manner the employee reasonably believes is illegal.

If the “business irregularity” is simply that the employer is abruptly changing past business procedures for reasons unknown to the employee,  but the employee does not reasonably believe the new practice is in violation of a law or a clear mandate of public policy, this reporting of, or complaining about, this abrupt change of business practice would not qualify as “protected conduct” under the law,  even if the employee believes that the employer’s new procedures of doing business demonstrates extremely bad business judgment.

DO NOT SIT ON YOUR RIGHTS!

Do not sit on your rights, or you may lose the right to file your claim.

If you think you have been retaliated against, it is essential for you to contact an experienced, competent and successful employment whistleblower attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights as soon as possible.

If you have been demoted, had your hours cut, terminated, harassed or been subjected to retaliation for complaining about, objecting to, refusing to participate in, or reporting what you believe is your employer’s illegal or improper conduct, you should contact this law firm as soon as possible. I am an experienced, competent and compassionate employment attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights.  I am successful in bringing whistleblower lawsuits against governmental entities and private employers and recovering money for whistleblower workers.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace retaliation, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation. I accept whistleblower and discrimination cases from all over New Jersey.

New Jersey employment attorney, Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout the state, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Southern, Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.



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