Dating back as far as the middle ages, there have been protections in place for anyone willing to come forward with evidence of fraud or corruption. People who are brave enough to come forward are often referred to as whistleblowers. Whistleblowers got their name because they alert authorities to corruption that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Without whistleblowers, society could not function as efficiently as it does now.
In New Jersey we have a law called the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The role of CEPA is to encourage any employee of the state to come forward if they have information regarding corrupt activity. Any employee who comes forward receives protection from retaliation at the hands of their employer.
Protections afforded to whistleblowers
Under CEPA, employers cannot punish an employee of the state, public or private, for whistleblowing.
- Termination- The unceremonious ending of an employment contract.
- Discharge- Ending a contract in a way that appears to the public as a mutual understanding.
- Demotion- Reduction in status, rank and possibly pay.
- Relocation– Forcing the employee to another work site.
- Retaliatory harassment- Hostile, intimidating or abusive behavior.
Whistleblowers who face any of the above actions should seek both compensatory and punitive damages.
Common allegations from whistleblowers
- Violation of company policy
- Illegal activity
- Threat to public interests
- Threat to national security
Although its most common for whistleblowers to come from positions that handle money, such as accounting, anyone who has knowledge of corrupt activity can come forward with the protections afforded under CEPA.