A suspended police captain in Ewing Township claims the police department is punishing for refusing to approve overtime for office who lectured at a university course taught the police chief. The lawsuit filed by a New Jersey employment lawyer on behalf of the captain contends that the Township violated the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), commonly known as New Jersey's Whistleblower law. According to the lawsuit, the captain claims he was brought up on charges after refusing to approve overtime he felt was unjustified. The New Jersey employment lawyer representing the Township stated that they have no facts which support the claim.
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A public employee may bring a whistleblower suit even if he fails to raise that claim in his administrative challenge to his termination, the Appellate Division ruled Wednesday. The court said further that the Conscientious Employee Protection Act suit filed by a New Jersey employment attorney on behalf of a a former Passaic County sheriff's officer was not barred by his failure to appeal the administrative determination or to file a Tort Claims Act notice. CEPA gives claimants the discretion to pursue their claims in court rather than through the administrative process, the appeals court said in Racanelli v. County of Passaic, A-5350-08. And CEPA claims against public entities are not subject to the notice provisions of the Tort Claims Act, the appeals court said.
Employment lawyers representing employees in the State of New Jersey saw a victory yesterday when a panel of the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed a $535,000 verdict to a former Camden public defender who was fired after alleging official corruption.
The court rejected arguments from the city's employment lawyers that the trial courts had erroneously granted summary judgment to Elliot Stomel on a civil-rights claim, wrongly treated him as an at-will employee and should have dismissed his claim for punitive damages under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
Stomel served as a part-time public defender for Camden from 1982, being reappointed by the mayor and council to one-year terms, until he was denied reappointment in 1999.
Employment Lawyers In New Jersey Impacted By New Jersey Supreme Court's Ruling In Fee Shifiting Case.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey issued a ruling Wednesday that defendants can never be awarded counsel fees under the offer of judgment rule in any case in which plaintiffs benefit from a statutory fee-shifting provision, which includes the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act. However, the decision gives defendants an incentive to make an offer in such cases anyway, so long as it is clear about how much would be for the plaintiff and how much for the plaintiff's legal fees.
The New Jersey High Court's opinion, in Best v. C&M Door Controls, Inc., is clearly an attempt to reconcile the intent of laws that allow fee switching for plaintiffs in workplace rights cases and the Offer of Judgment Rule, which uses fee awards to penalize parties, including plaintiffs who do not accept reasonable settlements.
Employment lawyers in New Jersey will certainly be impacted by the Supreme Court's decision. Employment lawyers representing plaintiffs can be thankful that defendants cannot be awarded fees. However, a New Jersey lawyer representing an employee may have his fees adjusted for failing to accept a reasonable settlement offer by the defendant.
New Jersey Employment Lawyer Files Whistleblower Lawsuit On Behalf Of Police Officer Against Edison Twp. Police Department.
A New Jersey employment lawyer has filed has filed a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of an Edison Township police officer after being suspended for complaining of what he perceived to be discriminatory conduct by his superior, a sergeant in the police department. The lawsuit alleges that the officer responded to a motor vehicle accident. According to the lawsuit, when the officer called for assistance, he claims the sergeant stated that "there's dirty (expletive) Indians in the car, and I'm not going in there." The officer was suspended after he complained about the comments made by the sergeant. The police department claimed that the officer's action were insubordinate. Ultimately, the insubordination charges were dismissed because they were not filed within the proper window of time.
New Jersey employment laws protect employees that complain of conduct they believe in good faith to be illegal. The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) permits employees to sue their employers for adverse employment actions taken in retaliation for blowing the whistle on conduct which they believe is illegal.
The lawyer for the officer also filed an age discrimination claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The lawyer claims that the officer was targeted because of his age.
New Jersey Employment Lawyer Obtains Reversal By Appellate Division In A Whistleblower Case No Caused At The Trial Level.
A New Jersey employment lawyer representing the employee was dealt a big victory on Tuesday. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, reversed a no-cause verdict in a whistleblower case brought under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The Appellate Division ruled that the trial court should have been bifurcated the case and that after-acquired evidence of the employee's wrongdoing should not have been presented to the jury while it was considering liability. The Appellate Division reasoned that the after-acquired evidence should not have been presented to the jury during the liability stage of the case due to the possible prejudicial effect. In Redvanly v. Automated Data Processing, A-4082-06, the New Jersey Appellate Division granted a new trial to an employee who was let go three weeks after allegedly telling her supervisor that she intended to disclose in an upcoming internal control audit that ADP had overbilled clients, manipulated quality-survey scores and engaged in other improper conduct. The net result of the opinion is that the trial court cannot allow the jury to hear the after-acquired evidence during the liability stage of the trial.
The New Jersey court's ruling will likely increase pre-trial motions by New Jersey employment lawyers seeking to bifurcate whistleblower case where the defense alleges after-acquired evidence as a defense. Under federal and New Jersey state law, an employer may be able to prevent an employee from seeking economic damages if the employer can prove that it discovered evidence on the employee after the employee was terminated that would have caused the employer to terminate that employee. An employer invoking the after-acquired evidence defense must first establish that the wrongdoing was of such severity that the employee in fact would have been terminated on those grounds if the employer had known of it at the time of the discharge.
The Appellate Division did not rule whether the trial court could allow the after-acquired evidence to be presented at the damages stage of the trial. The Appellate Division ruled that the trial court should be guided on this issue in accordance with its opinion.
New Jersey Court Rules Filing a Grievance Is Not A Whistle Blowing Activity Under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).
In Fred Brown v. New Brunswick Board of Education, Docket No. A-2501-07T2, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, ruled against the plaintiff because he failed to state a case under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et al.
The plaintiff, a principal of a school, argued that the filing of a grievance under a collective bargaining agreement constituted a protected activity under New Jersey's CEPA law. The plaintiff was suspended after filing a series of grievances opposing reprimands imposed by the school board for comments at a PTA meeting and other conduct the board deemed unacceptable. The plaintiff claimed that the suspension was in retaliation for his filing the grievances. The issue before the court was whether the filing of a grievance constituted a protected activity under New Jersey whistle blower statute, CEPA. The New Jersey Appellate Division rejected plaintiff's arguments and held that the filing of a grievance is not a protected activity under the CEPA statute.