What is The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)?
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees who come forward to report illegal and fraudulent activities and employer commitments. CEPA is frequently referred to as New Jersey’s whistleblower statute and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report such activity. Wrongful termination, demotion, job transfers, or any form of intimidation, abuse, or harassment is considered unlawful when taken against an employee who exercises their legal right to report corruption.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) Lawyers Protect Whistleblowers
A whistleblower takes many risks when they choose to report the illegal or fraudulent activities of their employer. It is not always easy to remain anonymous after acting as a whistleblower, but the law protects employees from retaliation. Compensatory and punitive damages can be awarded to the whistleblower, leading disgruntled employers and colleagues to become hostile toward the employee, often questioning their motives.
With offices in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, and Newark, NJ, the experienced CEPA lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are committed to helping clients report unlawful business conduct. Our team knows how difficult these claims can be, and we work diligently to claim justice and collect the compensation our clients are entitled to under the law, while protecting the right of whistleblowers in New Jersey.
Whistleblower Rights And Protections Under CEPA
An employee has the legal right to report activities that they believe to be illegal or fraudulent without fear of retaliation. When they witness these activities, they have the right to refuse to participate in them, to report their findings to their supervisor, report the conduct to a prosecutor or another investigative body, and to refrain from performing work duties that would harm public health, safety, welfare, or the environment. When the whistleblower is employed by a federal or state agency or a business that contracts with a federal or state agency, they may become involved in a qui tam case, which is protected under Federal and State False Claims Acts.
When retaliatory actions occur as a result of a whistleblower’s actions, a qualified CEPA lawyer can ensure that the employee’s rights and their job are protected. Employees considering reporting illegal and fraudulent activity of their employer in New Jersey can seek our help to ensure that their career and legal rights are protected in the process.
Our CEPA lawyers know what constitutes illegal activity and advise clients on the best legal strategy to result in a successful claim. CEPA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report such activity. Under CEPA, it is illegal to retaliate against employees who:
- Informs a supervisor or the public about illegal activity, policy, or practice.
- Provides information or testifies during an investigation, hearing, or inquiry involving the employer.
- Provides information that the employer deceived or misrepresented a shareholder, client, investor, or patient.
- Provides information about an activity on behalf of the employer that they believe to be illegal.
- Objects to, or refuses to participate in, an activity, policy, or practice that they believe is illegal or against the best interest of public health or safety.
Protections And Compensation Available Under CEPA Laws
Public and private sector employees are all covered by CEPA protections. Any employee or independent contractor that reports illegal, unethical, or fraudulent actions and then suffers retaliation has the right to sue the company for damages. Types of retaliatory actions include termination, demotion, pay cut, a poor performance review, harassment, and transfer of location or job duties.
The employee who suffers this type of retaliation may be entitled to compensation.This can include money for economic losses suffered from demotions or termination, recovery of past and future wages, emotional distress, attorney and legal fees, and punitive damages.
CEPA Claims For Refusing Dangerous, Illegal Job Orders
New Jersey employees can invoke CEPA when an employer directs them to engage in a dangerous activity. Workers always have a right to refuse illegal, unsafe job assignments. Moreover, even when what an employee has been asked to do is legal, the employee may still refuse if carrying out the order would jeopardize public safety.
The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) also has the authority to prevent retaliation against workers who shed light on violations of numerous federal statutes, including:
- The Solid Waste Disposal Act
- The Safe Drinking Water Act
- The Clean Air Act
- The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
The Occupational Safety Health (OSH) Act prohibits employers from punishing whistleblowers, so long as an employee files a complaint within 30 days of the punishment. Additionally, as with CEPA, the OSH Act provides employees with the ability to refuse an unsafe job assignment, as long as they have made their concerns known to a supervisor and the supervisor fails to mitigate the danger.
Proving Whistleblower Retaliation At Work
Whistleblower retaliation can take many forms, including:
- Job transfers
If you can demonstrate that your employer took any of these actions as a result of you speaking up or reporting an illegal activity under CEPA, you may have a retaliation case and should speak to a New Jersey employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Our New Jersey CEPA Lawyers Can Help You
If you have suffered retaliation in the workplace after you reported what you believed to be a violation of the law on the part of your employer, you may have a claim for damages. At any time in the process of considering reporting an employer, the experienced and knowledgeable CEPA lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can help you claim justice and the compensation to which you are entitled. Call or contact us today at our Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ or Newark, NJ offices to set up a consultation.