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Whistleblower Conscientious Employee Protection Act

NJ CEPA (Conscientious Employee Protection Act) Overview

The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) applies to private sector, state and local government employees. The statue is designed to protect "whistleblowers" and makes it unlawful for employers to take adverse employment action against employees who disclose, object to, or refuse to participate in certain actions that the employees reasonably believe are either illegal or in violation of public policy. The statute of limitations to file a CEPA claim is one year.

Employer retaliatory action; protected employee actions; employee responsibilities

1. New Jersey law prohibits an employer from taking any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee does any of the following:

a. Discloses, or threatens to disclose, to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer, or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care;

b. Provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any violation of law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law by the employer or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation,hearing or inquiry into quality of patient care; or

c. Provides information involving deception of, or misrepresentation to,any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity.

d. Provides information regarding any perceived criminal or fraudulent activity, policy or practice of deception or misrepresentation which the employee reasonably believes may defraud any shareholder, investor, client,patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity.

e. Objects to, or refuses to participate in, any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes:
(1) is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation issued under the law or, if the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, constitutes improper quality of patient care;
(2) is fraudulent or criminal; or
(3) is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment. N.J.S.A. 34:19-3.

2. The protection against retaliation, when a disclosure is made to a public body, does not apply unless the employee has brought the activity, policy or practice to the attention of a supervisor of the employee by written notice and given the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the activity, policy or practice. However, disclosure is not required where the employee reasonably believes that the activity, policy or practice is known to one or more supervisors of the employer or where the employee fears physical harm as a result of the disclosure, provided that the situation is emergency in nature.