New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act
It is an unfortunate truth that objectionable practices are rampant in the workplace. Many employees, while bothered by it, are afraid to take action because they know it could mean their jobs. Fortunately, the state of New Jersey has taken special steps to protect the brave employees who stand up to unacceptable practices in the workplace and suffer adverse employment action as a result. In addition to the anti-retaliation provisions that exist under state and federal laws, New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) provides broad whistleblower protection to employees under a variety of circumstances.
CEPA strictly prohibits retaliation against employees in New Jersey who do any of the following:
- Report or threaten to report violations of law, regulation or rule or any other criminal or fraudulent conduct either to a higher supervisor or to a public body
- Provide information to or testify before any public body in connection to an investigation or inquiry into violations of law or regulation or regarding patient care in the healthcare industry
- Object to or refuse to participate in an activity the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of law or regulation, fraudulent or criminal or incompatible with public policy concerning public health, safety, welfare or environmental protection
A CEPA plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial in New Jersey state court and, if successful, can receive reinstatement of position and benefits, compensation for lost wages, attorney fees and costs, and in some cases punitive damages. The time limit for filing a CEPA suit, however, is one year, and because there is no administrative process for enforcing CEPA, it is especially important to consult an experienced New Jersey retaliation lawyer.