Two conflicting decisions within recent years have put the interpretation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) in question. Corporations, business owners, labor coalitions and consumer groups are asking for clarity.
In the 2008 case of Massarano v. NJ Transit, the state’s top court ruled that a security operations manager for NJ Transit was not protected under CEPA because she was handling her specific job duties. However, in the more recent Lippman v. Ethicon, an appellate court disagreed with that ruling, and said all employees are protected by the state’s whistleblower laws, regardless of whether or not they were performing their essential job duties.
So which is it? This is the question which the state Supreme Court will be asked to answer this coming fall.
Currently, the law states that employees are protected from retaliation when they report any violations that affect public safety, law or regulations. Basically, if your employer is doing something that they shouldn’t be, you can report them without fear of being fired or retaliated against in any other way.
While big corporations would love for selective employee protections under whistleblower laws, it is important that all NJ employees be protected, so as to not leave loopholes open for exploitation. Removing or reducing any protections will put fear in the hearts of potential whistleblowers and allow wrongdoings to go unnoticed and unpunished.
This is even more important when one considers the climate we currently live in. We are only a few years removed from the Wall Street crisis, and General Motors is in the middle of one of the biggest recall scandals in recent memory. The last thing NJ and U.S. employees need is to be muzzled by a rollback of their whistleblower protections.
The qui tam attorneys at Begelman & Orlow, P. C. have more than 115 years of combined experience litigating whistleblower cases throughout the U.S. If you have knowledge of any fraudulent activity or wrongdoing, contact the whistleblower lawyers at Begelman & Orlow, P. C..