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What is the New Jersey ‘Whistleblower Act’?

A Bergen County employer may not punish a worker for blowing the whistle on company wrongdoing and rules or public policy violations. The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act shields employees from retaliatory termination and other employer revenge for filing valid complaints.

The Whistleblower Act safeguards workers who take a complaint to a supervisor or an outside public body. Employment lawyers understand employees worry that reporting unlawful activities might cost them their jobs or result in some other workplace misery like harassment, a job transfer, a promotion loss or a demotion

An employee doesn't have to know for certain a law or rule has been broken to be protected. The worker only has to have a reasonable belief a violation has occurred. The Whistleblower Act covers employee complaints that are disclosed and threats of retaliation.

Retaliation is also forbidden when whistleblowers supply public investigators with information about an unlawful activity. The protection is maintained for workers who testify before public bodies about what they've seen or heard in a workplace. Employees may share information about deceptive practices, criminal activities, fraud and misrepresentation with co-workers, shareholders, customers and others.

Workers cannot be fired or otherwise retaliated against for refusing to violate a law or public policy or take part in a fraudulent or other illegal activity at work. A public policy violation may include something that would harm the health or safety of a community or the environment.

The Whistleblower Act contains some employee restrictions. Workers can risk losing protection from retaliation, unless they first approach a supervisor with a written complaint. This gives the employer time to address the problem. An internal complaint is not required in emergency situations, when a worker believes supervisors already know about the violation or the threat of physical harm is present.

Source: New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Conscientious Employee Protection Act: “Whistleblower Act"," accessed March. 27, 2015

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