Retaliation and Whistleblowers
Retaliation is Illegal in New Jersey and New York
Many state and federal laws make it illegal for your employer to retaliate against you. For example, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New York Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law all protect employees who complain about illegal discrimination or harassment. Similarly, the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the New Jersey Family Leave Act ("NJ FLA"), the Occupational Health & Safety Act ("OSHA"), wage and hour laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), and many other employment law statutes prohibit retaliation. In addition, both New Jersey and New York law prohibit employers from retaliating against employees because they took time off from work for jury duty.
What Actions By My Employer Can Be Considered Retaliation?
Retaliation can come in many forms. Sometimes employers harass employees who raise legally protected complaints, trying to punish them or to convince them to keep their mouths shut. Other companies fire, demote, pass over for promotion, or take other adverse employment actions against employees who object to violations of the law. A wide variety of retaliatory conduct can violate your employment law rights.
New Jersey Has an Extremely Broad Anti-Retaliation Law
New Jersey has one of the country’s broadest whistleblower laws, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA"). Among other things, CEPA makes it illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if you object to or refuse to, participate in, something you reasonably believe is illegal, criminal, fraudulent, or violates a clear mandate of public policy relating to public health, safety, welfare, or the environment. If you are a licensed or certified health care professional, CEPA also applies if you objected to or refused to participate in an activity you reasonably believe constitutes improper quality of patient care.For more information about CEPA, please see our Frequently Asked Questions about the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Both New Jersey and New York law prohibit companies from retaliating against employees who seek workers’ compensation benefits or file workers’ compensation claims. Workers’ compensation retaliation can occur because a company gets upset that your claim could increase its insurance rates, will require it to complete extra paperwork, bring to light a dangerous condition in the workplace, or for a variety of other reasons. Workers’ compensation retaliation claims are often (but not always) associated with disability discrimination claims since it can be difficult to tell if you have been treated worse because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, because you have an injury that requires you to take time off from work or temporarily limits your ability to perform your job, or both.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act also provides protection to certain whistleblowers who report certain violations of law that harm the state or federal government. More information is available on our False Claims Act page.
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