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Articles Tagged with New Jersey whistleblower lawyer

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, recently authored a significant ruling that reaffirmed and strengthened the resolve of New Jersey’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”). In Halliday v. Bioreference Laboratories, Inc., a Texas based employee, Halliday, of a New Jersey Company, Bioreference Laboratories, Inc. (“BLI”), raised numerous complaints regarding her employer’s Houston, Texas laboratory being out of compliance with the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (“CLIA”) and thus in violation of federal law. Ms. Halliday was fired within a year of raising her complaints, leading her to file a CEPA claim against her former employer.

BLI moved for summary judgment arguing that Texas law, not New Jersey law, should apply. The trial court agreed with BLI, finding that Texas law governed the issue. Moreover, because Texas law governed the issue, and Texas lacks a whistleblower law in parity with CEPA, Ms. Halliday’s claim failed.  The trial court further noted that even if CEPA applied to the issue, Halliday failed to present evidence that her termination was connected to her complaints. As such, the trial court granted BLI’s motion for summary judgment. Ms. Halliday then appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court sided with Ms. Halliday, vacated the trial court’s ruling and remanded the issue back to the trial court.

The Superior Court’s holding emphasized the core ideas of CEPA as a “remedial legislation” that was created to advance an important social goal, namely “to encourage, not thwart, legitimate employee complaint.” Pursuant to this ideal, the Superior Court looked to the definitional language used in CEPA on the terms “employee” and “employer” and held definitively that, “[CEPA] does not limit the definition of employer to persons or entities located in New Jersey, and the definition of employee is not restricted to individuals performing services in New Jersey.” This landmark holding cements the idea that CEPA is an inclusive legislation that is not fully limited to the borders of New Jersey.

A New Jersey Appellate Division has denied an appeal of a whistleblower verdict in favor of a state employee against her former employer the State Department of Corrections.  The plaintiff, Meg Yatauro, brought her claim under the New Jersey whistleblower law known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, alleging that she suffered adverse employment action as a result of objecting to several improprieties over the period of years concerning the misuse of public funds.  After a lengthy trial, the jury agreed that Ms. Yatauro was retaliated for her whistleblowing activities and awarded her $1,000,000 in damages for emotional distress and economic losses.

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In this case entitled Meg Yatauro v. State of New Jersey, Gary M. Lanigan, Judy Lang, Mark Farsi, the plaintiff, Ms. Yatauro, began working for the Department of Corrections in civil service positions in 1984.  After nineteen years, Ms. Yatauro was promoted to the assistant superintendent position at Northern State Prison.  She was later transferred to Mid-State Correctional Facility, which she remained for two years, before being transferred to Central Reception and Assignment Facility, where she was promoted to associate administrator.  In 2012, Ms. Yatauro was transferred to the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correction Facility in an administrator position, where she alleged the whistleblowing and resulting retaliation took place.

The judge permitted Ms. Yatauro to present evidence of several whistleblowing events to the jury during the trial.  First, Plaintiff complained to her supervisor concerning the Chief of the Special Investigations Division having his Trenton office painted using funds out of the correction facilities budget at a time it had its own urgent need for repairs.  Another complaint was aslo related to an issue of misuse of funds involving another supervisor made unauthorized credit card purchases and permitted maintenance staff to work overtime without Ms. Yatauro’s approval.

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