Written by Ravi Sattiraju on March 4, 2019
Anyone who uses the New Jersey Transit system is well aware of the problems with trying to get anywhere in a timely manner. Are you one of the countless commuters who has waited in vain for a train or bus to finally arrive on time? Trust us, you are not alone. Every week, stories appear in the newspaper about the agency’s problems, such as the Princeton Dinky going out of commission until the middle of 2019.
According to executives with New Jersey Transit, their problems have stemmed from engineers using their sick time. However, a whistleblower recently approached 7 On Your Side Investigates to tell the real story.
Staffing Shortage, Not Sick Time, To Blame
Todd Barretta was a compliance officer with New Jersey Transit before getting fired. According to him, the real problem with NJ Transit is not engineers taking sick time but an insufficient number of engineers to begin with.
According to Barretta, he had warned the agency as far back as 2017 that there were staffing shortages across the agency. These shortages should not be surprising since Governor Christie slashed the agency’s budget by about $1 billion. Management allegedly knew about this staffing shortage but never took steps to address it. Instead, they publicly stated that they were adequately staffed.
Because of the real staffing crunch, many engineers have had to work on their rest days, otherwise service would be disrupted. Even with this extra labor, there is often an insufficient number of engineers for the trains and buses to run on time. After Barretta blew the whistle, Transit officials went public that they were hiring and training a large crop of engineers—an implicit acknowledgment that Barretta was right.
Whistleblower Claims Retaliation
Barretta, the whistleblower, was allegedly fired from his job as a compliance officer because he used a company car for personal reasons. However, he has alleged that he was fired out of retaliation for blowing the whistle.
Although we don’t know the facts of Barretta’s case, retaliation is unfortunately fairly common in this type of situation. Management is often angry that an employee has exposed flaws or mistakes, and managers take out their anger by firing the employee.
If you blow the whistle in New Jersey, there are several laws that will protect you from retaliation. However, you need to make sure that you have sufficient documentation to bolster your case. Often, the best piece of evidence is timing—you are suddenly fired after going public. However, if like Mr. Barretta, you have violated company policies in any way while employed, then you have a harder case to make, so meeting with an experienced attorney is critical.
The Sattiraju Law Firm Proudly Defends Whistleblowers
The best disinfectant for government fraud, waste, and abuse is sunlight, and employees who want to blow the whistle on government malfeasance, fortunately, have legal protections on their side. But they need a solid legal advocate to help them.
If you have suffered retaliation, we can help. The Sattiraju Law Firm has represented countless whistleblowers, and we are available to talk to you about your options. For assistance, please contact our New Jersey whistleblower defense attorneys as soon as possible. You can schedule a consultation with us by calling 609-619-8862 or sending a message.