Occasionally, the employee of a company might come into information that shows a business has been involved in a fraudulent scheme that has deprived the state or federal government of taxpayer funds. Common examples of this include Medicaid or Medicare fraud. However, whistleblower lawsuits in NJ could also be started because of workplace discrimination, claims under the Dodd-Frank Act, and tax fraud.
The government uses whistleblower laws to encourage and incentivize those with details about inappropriate behavior to step forward and whistleblower protection laws can protect whistleblowers for reporting fraud. Often these employees will report this wrongdoing to their supervisors. If the company becomes aware of the fraud and chooses not to do anything, however, the employee might go another step to file a NJ whistleblower lawsuit.
In addition to bringing awareness to activities that are in violation of laws and regulations, NJ whistleblowers might be entitled to a portion of an award for certain claims, like those under the False Claims Act. Speaking with a NJ whistleblower lawyer could help an employee in this situation to determine whether there are grounds to bring a lawsuit that could open the employee up to a portion of any recovery.
Once a qui tam or NJ whistleblower lawsuit is started, the government first receives the evidence and decides whether to intervene in the case. The whistleblower can continue with the legal claim regardless of whether the government participates. In False Claims Act cases, the portion of the award paid out to a whistleblower will be bigger when the government elects not to participate. The government considers numerous factors in deciding whether or not to get involved in the claim, including the potential damages, whether or not the issues in question involve public health or safety, and how many government resources would need to be dedicated to the pursuit of the case.
Elements of A New Jersey Whistleblower Claim
New Jersey law protects whistleblowers against illegal retaliation due to participation in whistleblowing activity. The law that outlines is the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”). Under this law, whistleblowing is defined as a situation in which an employee threatens to disclose or fully discloses an employer’s activity, in which the employee has reason to believe that the activity is a violation of regulation or law or in cases in which an employee declines to participate in an activity that he or she is a violation of the law or goes against public policy.
The law in NJ is one of the strictest across the country. An employer who chooses to retaliate against an employee for protected activity could face dire consequences in the form of legal action brought by that employee.
How to Be Successful with A CEPA Claim
The employee must be able to prove several different elements to be successful with a NJ CEPA claim. The first of these is that the employee must have had reasonable belief that the employer’s conduct violated a regulation, claim made at public policy or a law. The important term here is ‘reasonable belief’ rather than correct belief. The second element that must be alleged in a whistleblower claim is that the employee must show that the situation qualifies as whistleblowing activity or protected activity.
This can include threatening to disclose questionable conduct or disclosing it or the employee taking a stance and refusing to participate in this conduct. A whistleblowing activity must have been performed in good faith to meet the requirements. The third element of a whistleblower claim in New Jersey is harm or that the employee was retaliated against.
Getting Help with a Retaliation Claim in NJ
Employees who participate in protected activity cannot be demoted, discharged or otherwise discriminated against because of their participation in a whistleblower claim. Employees can use circumstantial or direct evidence to prove this element. Finally, the last element of a CEPA claim is that an employee must show there is a length between the protected activity and the retaliation such that the employee shows that the retaliatory acts more than likely occurred because of the whistleblowing activity.
If an employee can prove all four elements of these whistleblower issues, he or she could be entitled to damages. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced New Jersey whistleblower lawyer is an important next step.
Other Protections in Place for NJ Whistleblowers
Filing a NJ whistleblower claim can seem daunting for someone who is not fully aware of their rights. Speaking with NJ whistleblower lawyer could be the first step for an employee to take to protect their interests and rights in a claim. Knowing the stages involved and feeling fully prepared can help an employee to approach a NJ whistleblower lawsuit with confidence and clarity.
While the primary protection for NJ whistleblowers is CEPA, this is not the only way that someone can start a claim against an individual or business. In fact, there are other whistleblower laws and protections affecting NJ residents, including:
- The Sarbanes Oxley Act: This law protects workers in publicly traded companies who take action to report illegal accounting measures.
- Pierce Claims: This law has held that employees can be retaliated against for advancing or supporting state or federal rights or reporting fraud and wrongdoing.
- Wage and hour retaliation: An employee who reports behavior that led to denial of owed wages cannot be retaliated against by the employer.
- Workers’ comp whistleblowing: Any employee who files a workers’ comp claim can’t be retaliated against by that employer.
- Civil service laws: If an employee notices a violation of civil service law, the employee receives the same protection as other NJ whistleblowers.
What to Do After Discovering Evidence of Wrongdoing
One of the most common mistakes made in NJ cases involving whistleblowers is taking no action. As is mentioned above, there are many protections for workers who report wrongdoing and fraud. Even with these protections, it can be valuable for someone thinking about filing a NJ whistleblower lawsuit to get the insight of an attorney. A talented NJ whistleblower lawyer can help a worker who needs further insight into the process of bringing a case. Schedule a meeting today with a dedicated NJ whistleblower lawyer.