Disciplinary Harassment Is Retaliation Against a Whistleblower in New Jersey

Typically, to support a case of retaliation for blowing the whistle on illegal employer conduct, an employee must suffer some loss of money which lawyers call an “adverse employment action.”  But the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled last week that a New Jersey State Trooper who was subjected to “four or five disciplinary charges” in a few months could sue under New Jersey’s whistleblower law, called CEPA.  See Piniero v. New Jersey State Police (July 17, 2012).  The Court stated that the trooper could take his case to a jury trial because “four or five disciplinary charges in the course of several months is noteworthy given a record of few charges over the course of twenty years [on the job].”  The Court also found that a jury could find that the harassment was so severe that it led to the trooper quitting his job (constructive termination through forced resignation).