Experienced Hackensack Whistleblower Representation
From Enron to Worldcom, whistleblowers have heroically brought corporate or government malfeasance to light. Without whistleblowers, a tremendous amount of illegal activity would never see the light of day, and the nation as a whole would be worse off for that.
If you’ve blown the whistle on illegal conduct, your employer might retaliate. Fortunately, both federal and state laws protect whistleblowers and provide crucial remedies when they suffer adverse employment actions, up to and including termination. Please contact Zatuchni & Associates to schedule a consultation with a Hackensack whistleblower lawyer today.
Why Employees Blow the Whistle
Although many businesses are motivated solely by profits, some employees are motivated by principle. They see illegal activity and refuse to participate. They also want government regulators or others to find out about it so they can curb the illegal activity to protect shareholders and the public interest.
These people are whistleblowers. We find them in government and private business, and they work in a variety of fields, from health care to accounting to education and even law firms. Although some whistleblowers become famous, others remain private citizens who nevertheless had the courage to say something.
Federal & State Laws on Whistleblowing
When an employer retaliates, whistleblowers have crucial protections they can lean on. These protections are found in various New Jersey and federal laws:
- New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
- Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whistleblower protections
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower program
- Dodd-Frank Whistleblower protections
- The False Claims Act
- Federal Whistleblower Protection Act
Generally, these laws proscribe any type of adverse employment action as retaliation for protected whistleblowing activity. Each law or regulation is different, so meeting with a seasoned Hackensack attorney is vital for ensuring you pursue remedies using the appropriate law.
Elements of a Successful CEPA Claim
Any whistleblower alleging retaliatory conduct under New Jersey’s CEPA must establish four elements:
- Reasonable belief. An employee is allowed to be wrong about whether their employer was violating a law, regulation, or public policy mandate regarding safety, health, or the environment. However, this belief must be reasonable.
- Protected whistleblowing activity. An employee is engaging in protected activity when they threaten to report, or actually report, illegal activity to a supervisor or a public body. Objecting and/or refusing to participate in illegal activity also qualifies as protected whistleblowing activity.
- Negative employment action. An employee must establish they experienced some adverse employment action, such as demotion, termination, discipline, cut in pay, etc.
- Connection between whistleblowing activity and employment action. Essentially, an employee needs to show that the employer was motivated to retaliate against an employee for blowing the whistle. This is often the hardest element to prove, because most employers will couch a negative employment action as motivated by something pretextual, such as poor performance or personality conflicts.
Remedies for Whistleblowers
If you bring a claim under CEPA, you can request various remedies. Our clients have sought both monetary damages as well as equitable relief from judges. We work closely with clients to identify the best remedies to seek based on their experience, including:
- Job reinstatement
- Compensation for lost wages and benefits
- Emotional distress damages
- Punitive damages for egregious or flagrant conduct
Although job reinstatement is an option, many clients do not want to return to a workplace given the difficulties. Instead, they seek monetary damages that will allow them to weather the financial difficulties caused by a retaliatory employer.
We Have Wide Experience with Whistleblowing Claims
Zatuchni & Associates has helped clients in many industries seek justice after blowing the whistle. For example, we can assist those in the transportation industry, white-collar jobs, or the health care sector. Our clients have blown the whistle on various illegal activities, such as violating environmental or workplace safety laws, committing billing fraud, or the submission of bogus health care insurance claims.
We can helpfully listen to you explain the circumstances surrounding your negative employment activity and analyze whether you have valid legal claims. We also devise the next steps to take to build up a case.
One challenge involving whistleblower claims is rebutting the pretextual reason offered for our client’s demotion or termination. Employer communications, such as emails or meeting minutes, could contain helpful information that shines a light on an employer’s true motivations. We can request information and interview appropriate witnesses, where needed, to establish that your protected whistleblowing activity was the true motivation for your employer’s actions.
Call Our Hackensack Whistleblower Lawyer Today
Zatuchni & Associates has achieved impressive results for New Jersey whistleblowers, including confidential settlements and court verdicts. Recently, we won $3.2 million for a worker under New Jersey’s CEPA. To schedule a confidential case evaluation, call or send us an email.