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What protections does the Whistleblower Act offer?

The Whistleblower Act was passed to protect those in New Jersey and elsewhere who bring illegal action on the part of a company or organization to the attention of the government. For example, some whistleblowers have gone to the government over fraud and theft of government funds.

Since the government wants to promote this behavior, the act makes it illegal for employers to then fire employees or otherwise discriminate against them when such a thing happens. If the whistleblower does the following things, this protection is offered:

-- Threatens to go to the authorities or to otherwise disclose inappropriate or unlawful activity

-- Testifies in any sort of court or hearing based on a case brought against the company

-- Gives paperwork or other documentation to the government that exposes the unlawful activity happening in the workplace

-- Refuses to do something that is illegal or that is an unfair or unsafe practice.

Under this act, an employee does not even have to report the activity to be protected. If the employee believes that fraud is being committed, for instance, he or she could refuse an order to participate in the fraud and then threaten to tell others. Under the act, the employer is not allowed to fire, demote or discriminate against that employee as a result.

As you can imagine, these situations get to be rather complex, especially when an employee believes he or she has been fired illegally, and the employer says that there was another reason for the termination. You must know what rights you have and what legal options you can utilize.

Source: New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Conscientious Employee Protection Act: “Whistleblower Act”," accessed May. 19, 2015

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