What is My Legal Protection if I Refuse to Lie About a Co-worker’s Discrimination Claim?
An individual who has been discriminated against and files a claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination might call upon their co-workers who witnessed the discrimiaintion in support of their complaint. An employer facing a lawsuit might also call upon the same workers and witnesses. What happens if, after a current co-worker or former co-worker files a claim against your employer, your employer approaches you and asks you to lie about your co-worker’s claim? Do you have any legal protection if you refuse to lie about a co-worker’s discrimination claim? Yes, you do. A recent New Jersey appellate decision makes it clear that employers are prohibited from retaliating against employers who refuse to commit perjury.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
An emergency medical technician (EMT) for Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, who for purposes of this article will be referred to as E.R., found himself in a tough situation a few years back. Fortunately, E.R. knew right from wrong.
In 2013, the Hospital fired E.R.’s co-worker, and a few months later, the co-worker filed a sexual harassment complaint against the Hospital. For purposes of this article, E.R.’s co-worker will be referred to as H.B.
E.R. and H.B. had been friends, but E.R. did not know about the alleged harassment. H.B. never told E.R. about the harassment, and E.R. never witnessed any harassment. In fact, E.R. was not even aware that H.B. was planning on filing a lawsuit. Generally, as it pertains to the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, the EMT had no knowledge.
Nonetheless, some of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center’s senior employees, including the Coordinator of EMS and the Assistant Director of EMS, repeatedly insisted that E.R. be a “team player” and help the Hospital. E.R. was asked to take out a restraining order against H.B. and falsely claim that H.B. was giving him a hard time. E.R. was asked to tell H.B.’s attorney that H.B. gave the Hospital and its employees a difficult time, did not want to report to work, and created a hostile work environment. E.R. faced a lot of pressure, with the Coordinator of EMS telling him that as an employee at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, he had an obligation to protect the Hospital. Despite the pressure, E.R. refused to lie.
After refusing to cooperate, E.R. was fired. He then filed a retaliation claim under the LAD, and a lower court dismissed his suit. According to the lower court, E.R. had failed to prove that he had a reasonable and good faith belief in the validity of H. B.’s discrimination claim. However, according to the appellate court, this was a mistaken basis. The appellate court held that because E.R. was not aware of H.B.’s complaint, he could not show a reasonable, good faith belief in it. The appellate court held that E.R. only needed to demonstrate that there was a good faith and reasonable basis for opposing the Hospital’s actions as violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Contact The Trabosh Law Firm
If you are concerned your employer is pressuring you to lie about a co-worker’s discrimination claim and about what will happen if you refuse the request, contact the Trabosh Law Firm for a consultation. We can also help you get the justice you deserve if your employer has retaliated against you for refusing to lie about a co-worker’s discrimination claim.