Conscientious Employee Protection Act

Protecting Employees from Retaliation

The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) is a broad New Jersey whistleblower law. Essentially, it protects employees from retaliation such as being fired, demoted, passed up for a promotion or harassed because they objected to something that they reasonably believed violated the law.

What Activities Does CEPA Protect from Retaliation?

Employee Protection ActMore specifically, CEPA prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because the employee engaged in a fairly wide range of what are referred to as “protected activities.” This includes objecting to or refusing to participate in an activity the employee reasonably believes (1) is in violation of a law or a legal regulation; (2) is fraudulent or criminal; or (3) is incompatible with a legal requirement relating to public health, safety, welfare or the protection of the environment.

CEPA also protects employees who disclose or threaten to disclose information to a supervisor or a public body about the employer’s activity, policy or practice that the employee reasonably believes: (1) violates the law or a legal regulation, or (2) is fraudulent or criminal.

In addition, CEPA protects employees who provide information to, or testify before, a public body that is investigating, hearing or inquiring about a potential violation of law by the employer or another person or business that does business with the employer.

CEPA further protects physicians, nurses and other licensed and other certified health care professionals who object about, refuse to participate in, or disclose to a supervisor or a public body an activity that they reasonably believe constitutes improper quality of patient care.

Damages and Remedies Available Under CEPA

CEPA allows for a wide variety of damages and remedies, including reinstatement to your job, lost wages and employee benefits, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages. In addition, an employee can recover his or her attorneys’ fees from the employer.

Other New Jersey Anti-Retaliation Statutes

CEPA is not the only New Jersey statute that protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Rather, numerous other laws prohibit employers from taking reprisals against employees who pursue their legal rights. This includes, for example, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), the New Jersey Wage & Hour Act and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“FLA”).

In addition, New Jersey recognizes a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. This claim, which is similar to a CEPA claim, often is referred to as a “Pierce” claim because it was first recognized by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Pierce v. Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp.

Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer

If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an initial consultation about your whistleblower claim, please feel free to contact us online or call us at (973) 744-4000.

For more information about New Jersey whistleblower laws, please read one our Frequently Asked Questions about the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, or one of the following articles from our New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog: