Title: What to Do If Your Employer Has Retaliated Against You
In the state of New Jersey it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee. For example, employees are protected from employer retaliation when filing a complaint, reporting workplace safety violations, refusing to commit an illegal act, or reporting illegal activity to an outside authority. If you have been retaliated against by an employer, it is important to know your legal rights under New Jersey labor laws. Here’s a deeper look into exactly what to do if your employer has retaliated against you and what activities are protected from retaliation under New Jersey law.
When bringing a retaliation claim to court, you must be able to prove you were engaging in a protected activity that then caused your employer to retaliate. There are quite a few protected activities under New Jersey law, here are the main ones:
Common Law Protections
To begin, are those activities protected under public policy. These include reporting workplace safety violations, refusing to commit an illegal act, or reporting illegal activity to an outside authority. It is important to note, to be protected under public policy a report of wrongdoing cannot be done internally within the company. Rather, the report of wrongdoing must be brought to the attention of a public official. An internal report may, however, be protected under the general whistleblower protection statue called the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
General Whistleblower Protections
The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) protects employees from retaliation if they have been a whistleblower. A whistleblower is someone who exposes private or classified information about an organization that is generally illegal or unethical. Thus, an employee may not be retaliated against for disclosing, or threatening to disclose, an activity, policy, or practice of an employer that is reasonably believed to be illegal, fraudulent, or criminal. To be protected under CEPA, the employee must first disclose the information to a supervisor. If the violation is not corrected by the supervisor, the information can be taken to a public body. Furthermore, under CEPA an employee is protected against retaliation when providing testimony to a public body conducting an investigation. Lastly, employees are protected against retaliation under CEPA when objecting or refusing to participate in illegal, fraudulent, or criminal activities, policies, or practices. There are also some additional protections under CEPA for certified or licensed health care professionals.
An employee cannot be retaliated against for disclosing a violation of law, governmental mismanagement, or abuse of authority.
Retaliation is illegal if an employee has opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice, filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in a proceeding concerning New Jersey’s laws against workplace discrimination.
Family Leave Act
The Family Leave Act allows employees to request time off from work after the birth of a child or to help a family member with a serious health condition. An employee may not be retaliated against for opposing a practice that violates the Family Leave Act.
Minimum Wage / Wage Discrimination
An employee may not be discriminated against in retaliation for serving on the wage board, filing a complaint, or testifying regarding minimum wage violations or wage discrimination laws.
Finally, retaliation for claiming worker’s compensation benefits, or testifying in a worker’s compensation proceeding is also prohibited.
You’ve Been Retaliated Against, What Next?
If you can confirm that your employer has retaliated against you after engaging in one, or more, of the protected activities discussed above, you should contact a lawyer immediately. To remain valid, most retaliation claims must be filed within two years of the retaliatory act. An employee must file a lawsuit in the appropriate court, which may differ depending on the protected activity. Again, a lawyer would help clarify this.
Finding a Qualified Lawyer
Legal matters can be complex and confusing. Having a qualified lawyer, who specializes in employment discrimination, will help you get the justice you deserve. David Kaplan, a New Jersey attorney, has dedicated his career to helping employees build strong legal cases to take to court. He has the expertise and passion to help hold your employer accountable. Visit his website or Instagram for more information or a free case evaluation.