New Jersey maintains a strong public policy in protecting employees who speak out against the employer’s for engaging in unlawful business activities. The law recognizes that employers are responsible when they try to silence and hurt persons who oppose workplace conduct or activities that endangers people in the workplace and the public at large. However, while New Jersey law clearly provides for immense legal protections for employees against workplace retaliation, this does not mean anyone who is fired for complaining to his or her employer will be successful in a claim for wrongful termination.
New Jersey first enacted its state whistleblower law, the New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) in 1986. CEPA is broad in scope and considered as one of the farthest reaching state whistleblower laws in the entire country. CEPA is remedial legislation and is entitled to liberal construction by our courts.
Under of New Jersey’s whistleblower law, a worker cannot be terminated for opposing or refusing to participate in unlawful or certain other improper conduct of the employer. By placing stiff penalties upon employers who violate the whistleblower law, the New Jersey anti-retaliation statute tries to discourage employers from engaging in illegal or unethical workplace activities. The state law applies to private and public employers and employees. It also can apply to independent contractors in certain circumstances depending on the specific facts and circumstances of the business relationship.