Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees who face retaliation for taking certain actions in the workplace have the right to seek compensation for their related damages. These actions include taking steps to combat legal violations in the workplace. Whistleblowers, employees who combat such violations by reporting them to law enforcement, industry regulators, company management, and the public, have additional laws to protect them and their rights in many states. In New Jersey, whistleblowers are protected by the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act
This Act makes it illegal for employers to take retaliatory action against employees who act as whistleblowers. Retaliatory actions include termination, demotion, transfer of the employee, and workplace harassment of the employee.
Whistleblowing comes in a few different forms. In addition to reporting violations to parties who can benefit from the information—including the public—it can also take the form of providing relevant testimony in the course of an investigation of an alleged violation. It can also take the form of objecting to a policy or practice that the employee thinks or knows to be in violation of state or federal law or industry or public policy.
To file a whistleblower retaliation claim, the employee must demonstrate that they reasonably believed the employer’s conduct was a violation of a law or policy, that they followed the appropriate reporting procedure, and that the retaliation they faced was connected to the whistleblowing action. Remedies can include injunction, reinstatement to one’s job, pay level, and benefits, compensation for related damages, and punitive damages. Civil fines for employers are up to $1,000 for a first violation and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation.
Examples of Protected Whistleblowing
Whistleblowers play an important role in protecting employees, consumers, and companies engaged with their employers as vendors and clients. However, not all acts of whistleblowing are protected by New Jersey’s law. For a whistleblower to act without fear of retaliation, they must abide by the reporting procedure outlined in the law that requires them to first inform their supervisor of the violation in order to give the supervisor or company ample time to correct the issue. The only exception to this is when the whistleblower reasonably fears for their physical safety and the issue constitutes an emergency.
A few examples of whistleblowing that are covered by the law include:
- Providing accurate testimony in court about the violations the employee observed
- Refusing to comply with a supervisor’s direction that the employee believes to be criminal, fraudulent, in violation of an established industry rule or regulation, or violates public policy in some way
- Disclosing information about an alleged violation to law enforcement, upper management, or industry regulators after following the guidelines listed above
New Jersey Whistleblower Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Whistleblowers
If you have faced retaliatory action from an employer for whistleblowing, contact a New Jersey whistleblower lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call 215-569-1999.