Whistleblowers are employees who report illegal practices witnessed at work. They play a crucial role in ending dangerous or unlawful activities perpetrated by employers and, as such, enjoy a wealth of legal protections against any retaliatory actions employers might take against them. Unfortunately, these protections do not outright prevent retaliation, and whistleblowers may still find themselves on the receiving end of unfair or vindictive disciplinary measures.
Thankfully, the law is on the side of whistleblowers, and there are severe consequences for those who defy it. Proving whether or not any protections were violated, however, is no small task.
If you believe you have experienced retaliation for engaging in protected activity, you’ll need to convince the court to believe it, too. The best way to achieve this is by offering strong evidence to prove your whistleblower retaliation claim, and we will explain how.
What Are New Jersey’s Whistleblower Protections?
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees who report unlawful practices in the workplace. Whistleblowers cannot be fired, demoted, or mistreated if they speak up about illegal activity they witness. This whistleblower statute prohibits employers from retaliating against these concerned employees. Under CEPA, employers cannot terminate or intentionally transfer their employees who report corruption. Also, CEPA protects employees from any form of discrimination, intimidation, abuse, or harassment. These types of activities are unlawful and illegal under New Jersey law.
What is Whistleblower Retaliation?
“Whistleblower retaliation” consists of any adverse action taken against an employee who has engaged in protected activity. (i.e. whistleblowing.)
Whistleblower retaliation, and workplace retaliation, in general, can take many forms, including (but not limited to):
- Job transfers
- Denied benefits
- Punitive actions
- Threats or intimidation
- Lowered pay
- Cut hours
If you can demonstrate that your employer took any of these actions as a result of you speaking up or reporting an illegal activity, you may have a retaliation case and should speak to a New Jersey whistleblower attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
How To Prove Whistleblower Retaliation
The key to your whistleblower retaliation case is proving that you experienced one or more illegal reprisals for engaging in protected whistleblower activity.
While the precise difficulty of accomplishing this task can fluctuate depending on your situation, it never waivers from being a significant challenge.
You will need to stack the odds in your favor, and taking the following steps will greatly strengthen your case:
Maintaining a well-organized case file is a crucial part of proving your claim. Start by collecting any documents or media that were associated with the incident, such as:
- Call Logs
- Voice mails
- Photos & Videos
Once you’ve gathered as many of these documents as you can, make certain you keep them safe. Damaged or lost evidence can severely weaken a case.
Show Evidence of Initial Complaint
In addition to the other documents, proof of your initial complaint or report (the “protected activity”) can go a long way in substantiating your reliability and sharpening your case. This information may include any written documentation, the name and title of the person you made the initial complaint to, and the names of anyone who witnessed the event.
If there were any witnesses to the unlawful retaliatory actions you experienced, try to obtain their contact information (name, phone number, address, etc.), as they may be able to provide important testimony.
Prove Damages By Showing Losses
Arguably one of the most important steps you can take to prove unlawful whistleblower retaliation is by showing evidence of any losses you have suffered because of it.
Things like W-2 forms and pay stubs will show any financial fallout from the retaliatory action, but you can also include medical bills or other expenses that stemmed from the incident, including those incurred from the loss of any employee benefits (such as healthcare, pensions, etc.), if applicable.
Red Bank Whistleblower Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Victims of Retaliation in Whistleblower Cases
You have the right to report unsafe or illegal practices you witness in the workplace without fear of retaliation. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting unlawful activity, and if they do, you should contact an experienced Red Bank whistleblower attorney at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. immediately. We offer free consultations to clients throughout New Jersey and have convenient offices in Red Bank, Marlton, and Newark.