New Jersey whistleblower protection laws protect employees who object to or try to prevent illegal conduct by their employers, be they private sector employers or state or local government employers. However, while New Jersey employment law gives strong protection to employees, a recent published appellate decision in the case of McVey v. Atlanticare Medical Systems Incorporated makes clear that neither the New Jersey nor Federal constitutions provide free speech protections to employees of private sector employers, particularly when that speech violates a company policy or is racist.
Heather McVey was an employee of Atlanticare Medical Systems Incorporated, a private employer. She was hired as a nurse in 2005. She was promoted several times, eventually becoming Corporate Director of Customer Service. She was an at will employee. She had a Facebook page under a fictitious name, “Jayne Heather,” but used her actual photo for her profile, and listed her employment as “Corporate Director at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center.”