Retaliation and Whistleblowers
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 stop pressing those complaints. Other employers fire, demote, pass over for promotion or take another adverse employment action against employees who object to violations of the law by their employers. A wide variety of retaliatory conduct can violate your employment law rights if it is based on the fact that you engaged in a legally-protected activity.
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 (LAD), the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) all protect employees who complain about illegal discrimination or harassment.
Similarly, the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OSHA), wage and hour laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many other employment laws prohibit retaliation. Moreover, the First Amendment can protect state and local government employees who speak out about issues of public concern. 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.
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 believed constitutes improper quality of patient care.
For more information about CEPA, please see our Frequently Asked Questions about the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Worker's Compensation Retaliation
Both New Jersey and New York law prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who seek workers’ compensation benefits or file worker's compensation claims. Worker's compensation retaliation can occur because an employer is upset that your claim could increase its insurance rates or require it to complete extra paperwork, because it brings to light a dangerous condition in the workplace, or for a variety of other reasons.
Worker's 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 less favorably because you filed a worker's compensation claim or 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 particular violations of law that harm the state or federal government. Individuals who file successful cases under the False Claims Act are eligible to receive a percentage of the money the government recovers. More information is available on our False Claims Act page.
Contact a Whistleblower Lawyer
If you have experienced retaliation at your job, or would like more information about your employment law rights in New Jersey or New York, please call Rabner Allcorn Baumgart & Ben-Asher at (973) 744-4000 or contact us online about your case.