South Jersey Whistleblower and Retaliation Lawyers
There are several statutes in New Jersey which protect whistleblowers, or people who report an individual or organization involved in illegal activity, corruption, or general wrongdoing. Whistleblowers, while often employees, can also be suppliers, contractors, clients, or anyone else who either witnesses or is told about the illicit behavior. It often takes great courage for an employee to speak up about criminal activity in the interest of justice and morality. An employee will often fear they will lose their job, or become a target in their place of work. State and federal laws are in place to ensure that such brave individuals are protected against retaliation. South Jersey whistleblower lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates protect whistleblowers against unfair consequences.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects individuals who either report or refuse to partake in what they have reasonable cause to believe is fraudulent or criminal behavior of their employer. In order to be protected under this law, employees must not have disclosed their suspicion of wrongdoing publicly without first bringing it to the attention of a supervisor, unless they are reasonably sure that the supervisor is involved in or already aware of the fraudulent or criminal activity. In some cases an employee may even fear for their safety, and in such a case the employee need not disclose their suspicion of wrongdoing to a supervisor first in order to be protected under CEPA.
New Jersey Whistleblowers Rights Against Retaliation
Under CEPA, an employee who has been retaliated against by their employer as a result of reporting or refusing to partake in criminal or fraudulent activity has certain rights protected by New Jersey state law including:
- A court injunction to halt the ongoing retaliation,
- Recovery of all lost wages and benefits,
- Reinstatement to the same position or an equivalent one,
- Payment of other costs incurred by the employee as a result of the retaliation, including attorney’s fees.
South Jersey retaliation lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates help employees recover compensation for retaliatory actions. Examples of retaliation may include:
- Termination, demotion, or denial of promotion,
- Unjustified negative performance evaluations or written warnings,
- Unjustified negative references,
- Increased surveillance.
Types of Workplace Retaliation
Retaliation is not always overt. It is often presented in subtle ways, but it is still illegal retaliation if it is considered to be an action which would deter an employee from making a complaint. Moreover, retaliation and employee protection against it are not limited to whistleblowing.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, New Jersey employees are also protected against backlash received for filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Should an employee lodge a complaint about his or her workplace with the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), he or she is also protected.
In addition, daycare workers in New Jersey are protected from retaliatory actions by their employer if they report a concern to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP, formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services, or DYFS).
New Jersey Qui Tam Lawsuits
In 1863, U.S. Congress enacted the False Claims Act (FCA) in order to protect the government against fraudulent claims. Amended multiple times since its inception, under the FCA, anyone who is found to have submitted a false claim to the United States is responsible for three times the amount the government was defrauded plus penalties of between $5,500 and $11,000 per false claim. “Qui Tam,” based on a Latin phrase, is loosely translated to mean “he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, as well as for himself.”
The Qui Tam provisions within the FCA provide incentive for private persons assisting or cooperating with government prosecution against fraud under the FCA. Qui Tam allows people who are aware of or have evidence of fraud against the government to bring suit on behalf of the United States. By providing rewards to citizens if their case successfully recovers funds for the government, Qui Tam lawsuits encourage private persons to come forward.
The process for filing a Qui Tam claim is specific and regimented. The individual bringing suit, or the “relator,” is required to have legal representation. The complaint remains under seal for 60 days, at which point the Department of Justice (DOJ) can file a motion for an extension of the seal, usually in six month increments. The relator and their New Jersey Qui Tam lawyers must then provide to the Attorney General all the evidence he or she has in relation to the claim, and this information remains unavailable to the defendant.
Upon completion of an investigation, the Attorney General will decide to either prosecute the complaint on behalf of the government, dismiss the complaint because there is no case, or most commonly, decline to intervene in the Qui Tam action. When the DOJ declines to intervene, the relator and the New Jersey Qui Tam lawyer can prosecute the case on behalf of the United States, although these instances have a much lower success rate than those in which the government does decide to intervene. Qui Tam whistleblowers can be awarded between 15% and 30% of the funds recovered by the government.
South Jersey Whistleblower Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Handle Retaliation and Qui Tam Whistleblower Cases
Considering the complexities involved in whistleblower, retaliation, and Qui Tam whistleblower cases, whistleblowers should be sure that they have a South Jersey whistleblower lawyer on their side who has the experience and the resources required to award them every bit of protection and compensation to which they are entitled. New Jersey retaliation lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates have been successfully guiding whistleblowers through the process for decades. If you or someone you know has been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, or is considering a Qui Tam case, call our South Jersey employment lawyers today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online.