New Jersey whistleblowers face a tough dilemma – ignore wrongdoing and save their job and livelihood or “blow the whistle” and report their employer’s wrongdoing. It is important for the law to protect whistleblowers, however, as they bring illegal practices and dangerous conditions into the public eye and make conditions better for everyone.
The federal government recently ordered New Jersey Transit to pay a former employee more than half a million dollars for its retaliatory actions against the employee. The employee was suffering from a work-related illness after witnessing a fatal accident involving another employee. NJ Transit brought charges against the employee and, in addition, suspended and cut the employee’s pay.
In another New Jersey whistle blowing incident, the federal government ordered New Jersey Trinitas Regional Medical Center to pay $3.02 million to the government to settle a lawsuit that a whistleblower brought to the government’s attention. The whistleblower learned that the hospital was defrauding Medicare by inflating its reimbursement claims. The whistleblower has been involved in several other Medicare fraud hospital cases in New Jersey, including Cooper University Hospital, Warren Hospital, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Cathedral Healthcare System, and Bayonne Medical Center. A Monmouth County business lawyer can protect your rights if you have faced retaliatory action for your whistleblowing.
Whistleblowing – Knowing Your Rights
Unknown by many, New Jersey already has strong whistleblower laws in place. Some of the important considerations to remember are:
- Employers cannot fire employees for bringing attention to the employer’s illegal conduct. This applies whether the employee is complaining to management of the company or to a federal agency.
- The law protects employees even if their allegations turn out to be incorrect. The allegations just need to be reasonable.
- Common problem areas include fraudulent accounting practices, covering up dangerous side effects of pharmaceuticals, or any other conduct that is unethical and not necessarily rising to the level of illegal or fraudulent.
- Judges have been interpreting state and federal whistleblower laws in an increasingly liberal manner to ensure that employees have nothing to fear by coming forward.
Now more than ever, whistleblowers do not have anything to fear. Their actions can save lives and set precedents that positively affect other employees for years to come. Contact a Monmouth County business attorney at Garland & Mason L.L.C. for guidance on employer actions about which you are feeling uncomfortable.