The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
As a New Jersey employee, you have the right to be a whistleblower. That is, reporting your employer or a coworker when they, for instance, break the law, commit fraud, or violate a public policy. When you witness your employer or co-worker committing a legal violation, coming forward can enable justice and transparency. Reporting your employer or a coworker when they commit a legal violation can encourage a culture of openness and accountability in your company. Apart from reporting, you also have the right to refuse to participate in or object to conduct you deem illegal.
A whistle blower is an employee who reports their employer for committing a legal violation or refuses to participate in, or objects to such conduct. Whistleblowing is so important, yet it is one of the most challenging, stressful, and dangerous things an employee can do. This is because of the fear that an employer will retaliate.
It is crucial for employees to know that New Jersey has a “Whistleblower Act” known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), which protects New Jersey employees who decide to be a whistleblower.
Below is a more in-depth look at New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Protected Actions Under CEPA
CEPA bars employers from any actions that discourage employees who engage in, among others, the following activities;
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose a policy, an activity, or a practice that violates the law to a supervisor or public body.
- Giving information or testimony during an investigation about a violation.
- Providing information about misrepresentation or deception to an individual affected by the misrepresentation or deception.
- Revealing information about a perceived fraudulent or criminal activity that might defraud others.
- Objecting to, or declining to participate in an activity, practice, or policy that;
- is in violation of a law, or
- is criminal or fraudulent, or
- can compromise public safety, patient care or interfere with the protection of the environment.
It is crucial to note that for an employee to invoke the protection under the New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act after disclosing a violation to a public body, they must have forwarded a report about the violation to a supervisor and given their employer a chance to take action. Nevertheless, there are two exceptions to this rule. Firstly, disclosure is not required if an employee reasonably believes that at least one person in a supervisory position within the company knows about the activity, practice, or policy. Also, disclosure is not a requirement if an employee is afraid that they will suffer harm as a result of the disclosure. However, for this second exception to apply, the situation must be an emergency.
Remedies Available Under CEPA
If you are a New Jersey employee who has been retaliated against for being a whistleblower, you should know that CEPA allows for the recovery of a wide range of damages. For example, CEPA allows victims of retaliation to recover compensatory damages such as lost wages and lost employee benefits. CEPA also allows employees who are retaliated against for whistleblowing to recover attorney fees and punitive damages.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you need more information on CEPA or help with the recovery of damages after being retaliated against for whistleblowing, contact the experienced and knowledgeable Arykah Trabosh of The Trabosh Law Firm today for a free consultation.