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Filing a Lawsuit May Qualify Under the Protections of New Jersey Whistleblower Law

Posted by Jamison Mark on May 8, 2014 2:10:00 PM

Whistle-blowing activity includes an employee's disclosure "to a supervisor or to a public body" of, or his objection to or refusal to participate in, "any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes... is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation or is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment.

Retaliatory action' means the discharge, suspension or demotion of an employee, or other adverse employment action taken against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment

Pursuant to CEPA, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: 1) he or she reasonably believed that his or her employer's conduct was violating either a law, rule, or regulation promulgated pursuant to law or a clear mandate of public policy; 2) he or she performed a "whistle-blowing" activity; 3) an adverse employment action was taken against him or her; and 4) a causal connection exists between the whistle-blowing activity and the adverse employment action.

What is considered Whistleblower activity? Possibly filing of a lawsuit...It does if the complained of activity has "public ramifications," and is not just a private disagreement between you and the boss.

In Sandom v. Travelers Mortgage Services, Inc., 752 F. Supp. 1240 (D.N.J. 1990), the federal district court of New Jersey a terminated Executive filed two complaints with the EEOC in which she alleged gender-based discrimination. Sitting Judge Cohen found "nothing restrictive about the term whistle-blower, and an employee who discloses unlawful sex discrimination is certainly a 'whistle-blower.'" Judge Cohen reasoned that "[o]nly those employees who have been discharged in retaliation for exercising their right to file an EEOC claim for alleged illegal employment practices will have a cause of action."

Sandom is consistent with CEPA's legislative intent, and the Court has held that disclosure of "illegal conduct" may include testimony of illegal activity by a public employer by a witness in a litigated matter. Additionally, the complained of activity must have public ramifications, and . . . the dispute between employer and employee must be more than a private disagreement."


The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees from being victims of retaliation; however it can be difficult to determine what situations fall under those protections. If you feel that you have been subjected to any of these events, please contact Mark Law Firm, LLC at (973) 440-2311, (908) 626-1001 or (201) 787-9406, or you can tell us your story by clicking the "contact us" page. We represent clients throughout Essex County, New Jersey including Newark, Jersey City and Basking Ridge.

Topics: Employment Law, Hostile Work Environment

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