A whistleblower is someone who reports the illegal activities of his or her employer. Because employers have a vested interest in not being prosecuted, whistleblowers are at risk of being retaliated against for coming forward. Fortunately, laws exist to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in the form of demotion, firing, or harassment by their employers. The Mount Laurel employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC are dedicated to fighting for justice and protecting the rights of whistleblowers throughout South Jersey.
Whistleblowers are Protected in New Jersey
The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects New Jersey employees who disclose or threaten to disclose information regarding their employer’s participation in illegal activities. According to the statute, employers may not take retaliatory action against employees who:
- disclose or threaten to disclose the activity, policy, or practice of an employer that is either: (1) in violation of a law, rule, or regulation, (2) fraudulent or criminal, or (3) incompatible with public policy, to a supervisor or public body;
- provide information to, or testify before, a public body that is investigating the employer’s suspected violations; or
- refuse to participate in any activity, policy, or practice which they believe is (1) in violation of a law, rule, or regulation, (2) fraudulent or criminal, or (3) incompatible with public policy.
To succeed on a whistleblower claim under CEPA, the employee must have disclosed or threatened to disclose the information based on their reasonable belief that their employer’s actions were wrongful. This means that, generally, as long as the report is made in good faith, the employee is protected.
Also, employees must provide notice of the suspected activity to a supervisor in writing and afford the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the issue. There are exceptions to this rule in circumstances where the employee is reasonably certain that the supervisor is aware of the activity or the employee reasonably fears physical harm as a result of disclosing the information.
Prohibited Retaliatory Actions
Under CEPA, employers are prohibited from taking certain retaliatory actions against whistleblowers, including:
- assigning the employee unpleasant tasks that they were not assigned prior to the reporting;
- constructive termination;
- firing, demotion, or otherwise changing the employee’s work conditions or duties;
- harassment; or
- taking away benefits the employee previously enjoyed.
Available Remedies for Whistleblowers Under CEPA
Whistleblowers may be entitled to damages under CEPA. Those who meet the reasonable belief and notice requirements may be able to collect damages including compensation for lost wages, lost benefits, and mental distress. The court may even impose punitive damages upon employers for particularly egregious behavior. It is important that employees considering reporting CEPA violations contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected.
Mount Laurel Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Protect Whistleblowers’ Rights
If you are considering filing a whistleblower claim or your employer has retaliated against you, contact a Mount Laurel employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. Our passionate and experienced attorneys fight for justice on behalf of whistleblowers throughout South Jersey, including the areas of Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County, from our offices located in Mt. Laurel and Atlantic City. For a free and confidential consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 856-235-7075.