Too often, business owners or their managers engage in misconduct that can adversely affect stockholders, employees, customers and the public in general. Nor are government agencies and non-profits immune from similar improprieties. In many cases, the public would never find out about these infractions if courageous employees weren’t willing to come forward and report them.

In order to protect whistleblowing workers from retaliation by their employers, the New Jersey General Assembly enacted the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). This law gives employees who are subjected to adverse action for disclosing wrongdoing the right to sue in court to stop the retaliation and to obtain compensation for the damages they suffer as a result.

In order to succeed in a claim of whistleblower retaliation under CEPA, you must prove:

  • Your reasonable belief that misconduct occurred — You reasonably believed that an activity, policy or practice was either in violation of a law, rule or regulation or was incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning public health, safety or welfare or the protection of the environment. You don’t actually need to prove that your belief was founded.
  • Whistleblowing — You engaged in an action protected by the statute, such as disclosing or threatening to disclose an objectionable activity, policy or practice to your supervisor or to a public body. Whistleblowing also includes helping the government investigate or objecting to or refusing to participate in the objectionable activity, policy or practice.
  • Adverse employment action — The employer subjected you to one or more actions that adversely impacted your conditions of employment, such firing, suspending or demoting you, failing to give you a promotion or engaging in a series of actions adding up to a hostile work environment.
  • Causal connection — The employer took the adverse actions because of your protected activity. You may prove this by showing that your protected activity played a role in motivating the adverse employment action, even though it was not the only reason. Or you may show that the defendant’s stated reason for the action is untrue. If the adverse action occurred soon after your whistleblowing action, the jury may consider that proximity in time as evidence of the causal connection.

To win damages, you must prove all four of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, which means they are more likely true than not true.

If you believe you are a victim of retaliation for having reported company misconduct, an experienced New Jersey whistleblower protection attorney can help gather evidence in support of each element of your claim for use in pretrial negotiations and, if necessary, at trial. Your attorney can also work to rebut your employer’s defenses and to maximize your damages in court.

Cashdan & Kane, PLLC in Westfield represents New Jersey workers in the enforcement of CEPA whistleblower protections and remedies. Call us at 908-264-9331 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.