Published on:

New Jersey Whistleblower Law Update: Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)

above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgOur New York and New Jersey Whisteblower and Retaliation Attorneys have represented clients in cases involving New Jersey’s powerful anti-retaliation law known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). Unlike New York Labor Law Sections 740 and 741, CEPA is a very advantageous tool for employees. CEPA is broad in all aspects of its scope and protects employees and independent contractors who report illegal or unethical activities in the workplace. CEPA applies to almost all employers in New Jersey. In short, CEPA protects you if you refused to participate in activities at work that you believed to be fraudulent, criminal or harmful to the public’s health and safety. This covers a wide range of activities in the workplace. Our New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys are very familiar with employee rights under CEPA and have successfully represented clients in these matters.

What activities are protected under CEPA?

CEPA protects employees and independent contractors who:

  1. Disclose, or threaten to disclose, to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy, or practice of the employer or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care;
  2. Provide information to, or testify before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any violation of law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law by the employer or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into quality of patient care; or
  3. Object to, or refuses to participate in, any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes:
    • is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law, or, if the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, constitutes improper quality of patient care;
    • is fraudulent or criminal; or
    • is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment. N.J.S.A. 34:19-3

    Importantly, this range of protected activities are far greater than the statutory protected activities in New York and most other states. Similar to New York’s Labor Law, an employee will be protected from anti-retaliation under CEPA even if the company’s policy, practices or activities are not illegal; the employee or independent contractor merely must have an objectively reasonable belief that his or her allegations are true. Further, the employee does not have to specify the name of the law violated by the employer or state any specific “magic words” invoke protection under CEPA.

    What damages are available under CEPA?

    Under CEPA, a prevailing employee or independent contractor can recover back wages, front pay, value of lost benefits, damages for emotional distress, attorney fees, costs and potentially reinstatement. Punitive damages are available in select cases.
    If you are aware of any fraud in the workplace and/or were retaliated against (e.g., wrongful termination, demotion, suspension, reduction in hours or pay, etc.) because you engaged in protected activity, call our experienced Whisteblower and Retaliation Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation.

    Disclaimer: 

    Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.