your rights as a whistleblower

Your Rights as a Whistleblower in New Jersey

By Thomas McKinney

Those who voice their concerns over the unlawful activities of their employer are protected under the law. After all, these whistleblowers are trying to help ensure that those illegal activities are properly reported and come to an end. When employers comply with the law, the general public benefits. When they don’t, we are all put at risk. This is why whistleblower protection is essential and why New Jersey has enacted laws designed to protect those who take action. Included in these protections is the protection against whistleblower retaliation.

Understanding Whistleblower Retaliation

Employees and workers who make good-faith complaints about the illegal activity of their co-workers or employers are protected from retaliation under New Jersey law. These laws are a reflection of New Jersey’s robust public policy against such retaliatory measures being taken against whistleblowers. While New Jersey has a number of laws that were put in place to safeguard against whistleblower retaliation, the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) may be the most notable one.

Under CEPA, it is unlawful for an employer to take an adverse employment action against an employee who has disclosed, objected to, or refused to participate in illegal actions of their employer. The protections under CEPA are fairly broad considering it is given a liberal construction. It was put in place to protect against employers taking retaliatory action against whistleblowers. CEPA was also established to discourage employers from participating in unlawful or unethical activities in the first place.

Should an employee hold a reasonable belief that an employer is violating the law or public policy and that employee either complains about, discloses, or refuses to participate in the unlawful activity, then CEPA protects that employee from suffering retaliation due to this protected act. To get protection under CEPA, the law does not require that the employee be able to prove that the complaint of employer conduct was actually a violation of the law. There only needs to be a reasonable belief on the part of the employee that a violation of the law or public policy was going on.

So, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under New Jersey law. They get protection from suffering adverse employment actions due to their engagement in this protected activity. Adverse employment actions can be everything from outright termination, reduction in salary or wages, denial of bonuses, and much more. Sometimes, the retaliation can be very subtle. It may come in the form of a bad performance review or a supervisor creating a reason to write them up. Part of investigating a whistleblower claim involves determining the true reason why the employee suffered the adverse employment action. 

Contact Our New Jersey Whistleblower Retaliation Attorneys Today

Have you suffered an adverse employment action after reporting illegal activities of your employer? Talk to the employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney about your options for accessing whistleblower protections. Contact us today.

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.