New Jersey Whistleblowers Win Right to Recover Lost Pay Without Termination

By Thomas McKinney

The Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an opinion in favor of employee-whistleblowers today.  In Donelson v. DuPont (June 9, 2011), the Court considered whether, under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), an employee who becomes psychologically disabled due to retaliation by his employer can recover lost wages without proving he was discharged.  The Supreme Court ruled, in a narrow vote of 4-2 with 1 abstention, that the employee was not required to show he was fired because CEPA broadly defines retaliation as action short of discharge. Cast in that light, an “adverse employment action” is taken against an employee when the employer targets him for reprisals such as making false accusations of misconduct, giving negative performance reviews, issuing an unwarranted suspension, and requiring pretextual mental-health evaluations.  That retaliation by DuPont caused the employee to suffer a mental breakdown that reduced his ability to earn money.  In the end, the Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict awarding the employee lost wages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

June 9, 2011 – Castronovo & McKinney, LLC – Paul Castronovo

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.