Individual Liability for Violations of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act
New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) is one of New Jersey’s employment protection laws. The Act, enacted in 1986, is often referred to as the “whistleblower law.” In fact, it is one of the most liberally interpreted and expansive whistleblower laws in the country. It protects employees from being fired in retaliation for the employee’s disclosure of or objection to a wrongful practice of the business or one of the business’s employees.
In order for the statute’s protections to apply, the employee must disclose, object to, or refuse to participate in an act, policy, or practice of the employer which the employee reasonably believes violates a law, regulation, or public policy. Further, the employee must be fired, harassed, or otherwise retaliated against as a direct result of the disclosure, objection, or refusal. The employee does not even have to be right about her belief that the conduct is illegal or against public policy to be protected by the act. The employee merely has to have a reasonable belief of such.
CEPA includes in its definition of “employer” any individual, partnership, association, corporation or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly on behalf of or in the interest of an employer with the employer’s consent.