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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

NJ Employee and Employer Retaliation, If I Don't Do What the Boss Asks Me, Is That Whistleblowing?

Persons sometimes believe that for them to have an actionable whistleblower claim under New Jersey Law, that they had to have reported or "whistleblew" what they believe to be their employer's illegal acts to some type of  regulatory body such as the Dept. of Banking & Insurance,  Depart. of Health,  OSHA, or to the police, or a newspaper or other news outlet.

However, the NJ  whistleblower statute, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), N.J.S.A. §§ 34:19-1 to 34:19-14, is more expansive than that and allows employees to bring a whistleblower claim under other circumstances, even when there is no outside reporting of the employer's activity. When the employee refuses to carry out his boss's directions or objects to the employer regarding a certain activity, for the employee to be covered under this legal protective CEPA umbrella giving him protected status from employer retaliation, the employee must object to, or refuse to participate in any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes falls into one or more of three categories:

(1) The employee reasonably believes what he is being told to do, or the employer's activity, policy or practice is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law. This includes including any violation involving deception of, or misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity, or, if the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, constitutes improper quality of patient care.

(2) The employee reasonably believes what he is being told to do, or the employer's activity, policy or practice  is  fraudulent or criminal, including any activity, policy or practice of deception or misrepresentation which the employee reasonably believes may defraud any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity; or

(3) The employee reasonably believes what he is being told to do, or the employer's activity, policy or practice  is  incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment.

The NJ Supreme Court held in a 2015 case, Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., 222 N.J. 362, that this Whistleblower Protection exists even for persons employed by the employer to be watchdogs over the very same employer's activities to make sure they are in compliance with regulations and laws.

Credible evidence that you objected or complained to your employer is critical at trial. Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving their retaliation claim. Even when there are co-workers or other witnesses to your objections, complaints or refusal, do not assume they will later become credible witnesses in your behalf to support your claim. To avoid a risk of completely undermining any potential CEPA claims, you should submit your complaints to the employer in writing so they cannot later deny they had no knowledge of your objections.

Labels can be illusory, and some persons designated to be independent contractors and not employees by their employer, may still receive employee whistleblower protection in certain instances.

I have successfully represented numerous employees whose employers retaliated against them after they “whistleblew” and been successful in recovering money for them.

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 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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