If you see illegal activities occurring at your work, there are state protections in place that protect you from termination if you report the ethical or legal breaches. While New Jersey is an at-will state, meaning that an employer has the right to terminate your employment at any time they see fit, there are certain exceptions to that rule. One such protection from termination is enacted when you are acting as a whistleblower.
A whistleblower is an individual who sees illegal activity within the company they work for and reports it. If you have done so, and were then subsequently fired or the quality of your job has diminished, you might have a whistleblower retaliation case. A Marlton employment lawyer will be able to help you determine for sure.
What Should I Do When I See Illegal activity at Work?
When illegal activity occurs at your place of employment, you should report it to the proper authorities. There are companies that have policies in place to report on things that you see. In those instances, you should follow those procedures initially. If those channels fail or your company retaliates against you, then you should report what you saw to the police or appropriate regulators.
When a company retaliates against an employee for a whistleblower claim they might terminate the person’s employment, or they could alter the person’s work conditions to make it more difficult for them to work there. This could include reducing their responsibilities, a pay cut, or even moving their desk to a less desirable position. If these events occur to you, you might have a valid claim.
What Laws Protect Whistleblowers in New Jersey?
New Jersey has some of the strictest whistleblower laws in the country. There are two major laws in the state that address this topic: the New Jersey False Claims Act (NJFCA) and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).
The NJFCA allows employees to file qui tam lawsuits against their company if they can present evidence that their company knowingly defrauded the state. The law rewards whistleblowers for their information with up to 20 percent of the fines imposed on the offending company. The law also provides that their job be reinstated if a whistleblower is fired for what they report.
The latter protects employees who refuse, object, or report illegal activity that is taking place within their company. CEPA allows those employees who have been retaliated against to recover any back pay as well as any future pay due to the retaliation. They might also recover non-economic damage such as pain and suffering.
There are other state and federal laws that also protect whistleblowers who report illicit activity. These laws also attempt to motivate whistleblowers to come forward. These laws include
- The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: This federal law addresses whistleblower claims within the financial services industry. It sets up a whistleblower department within the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- The Sarbanes Oxley Act: Another federal law, but this one covers publicly traded companies. Specifically, it addresses accounting abnormalities. It was passed soon after the Enron scandal.
- Wage and hour retaliation: The state makes it illegal if a company tries to retaliate against you if you voice concern that your or your fellow employees are not getting paid the salary that you are owed.
- Pierce Claims: This was a court decision that stemmed from Pierce v. Ortho Pharmaceuticals, which held that an employee could not be retaliated against for advancing a person’s state or federal rights or who reports wrongdoing.
- Workers’ comp whistleblowing: If you are injured at work, you have the right to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Your company cannot then retaliate against you for that.
- Civil service laws: Civil service violations are serious, as well and the state wants to learn about those violations and will protect those who report those violations withing their company.
It can be frustrating to be punished for choosing to do the right thing. The law is on your side and with a Marlton employment lawyer working with you, you will be able to hold your employer accountable for its retaliation.
Marlton Employment Lawyer at Burnham Douglass Protects Your Rights When You Have been Retaliated Against for Doing the Right Thing
If you have reported illegal activity at your workplace but are now facing consequences at work, the law will protect you. Our Marlton employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass will help you determine if you have a case. Call 856-751-5505 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey including Marlton, Evesham Township, Cherry Hill, Camden County, Burlington County, Northfield, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.