Continued Clarifications of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act
New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) provides a remedy for employees who are wrongfully terminated in retaliation for objecting to conduct which is believed to be illegal. This Act is often referred to as the New Jersey “whistleblower law.” In fact, it is one of the most liberally interpreted and expansive whistleblower laws in the country. CEPA is a relatively new law, enacted n 1986, and thus has been the subject of much debate, misunderstanding, and misapplication.
CEPA provides wrongfully terminated or retaliated against employees with an avenue to seek redress. An employee is protected under CEPA if she disclosed, objected to, or refused to participate in an act, policy, or practice of the employer which the employee reasonably believed violated a law, regulation, or public policy. If the employee is then fired, harassed, or otherwise retaliated against as a direct result of the disclosure, objection, or refusal, that employee may have a claim under CEPA.
In the recent case of Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1 v. City of Camden, police officers brought an action against the City claiming (among other things) retaliation in violation of CEPA for the officers’ objections to the City’s policies regarding police-civilian interactions, based upon the belief that the policy violated the anti-quota law.