Written by Ravi Sattiraju on September 3, 2018
New York and New Jersey employers must follow a web of state and federal laws that guarantee workers a safe and healthy environment. These laws allow workers to report violations that can lead to investigations, lawsuits, and sanctions.
Unfortunately, some employers lash out at employees who blow the whistle on illegal behavior. Instead of thanking the employee, they retaliate by taking negative employment action against the whistleblower. If you have experienced retaliation, you need an experienced employment lawyer in your corner to help you defend your rights.
Protection for Whistleblowers
Many federal and state laws protect workers who report illegal behavior. Our law firm has experience with protections afforded by many laws, including:
- Federal antidiscrimination law
- State antidiscrimination law
- The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA)
- Various whistleblower statutes
Each law is different, and we will independently analyze whether you are protected by the statute. For example, CEPA requires in most cases that employees bring the violation to the attention of a supervisor by written notice before they are protected from retaliation.
Has Your Employer Retaliated Against You?
An employer can retaliate in many ways. Firing an employee is perhaps the most dramatic form of retaliation, but it is not the only one. Instead, you might suffer any of the following:
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Transfer to less desirable position
- Reprimands or negative performance evaluation
- Changes to work schedule
- False rumors spread about you
- Increased scrutiny
So long as the negative employment action was motivated by a desire to retaliate, then it is illegal. However, it is not illegal to take negative action if your employer has a non-retaliatory reason for doing so.
At the Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C., we represent employees in a variety of retaliation cases, including:
- Retaliation for reporting safety violations
- Retaliation for reporting employment discrimination or harassment
- Retaliation for blowing the whistle on other illegal activity
Employees who have suffered retaliatory action have options, but they need to act fast. Each whistleblower statute has its own statute of limitations, which is the maximum amount of time you have for filing a lawsuit against your employer. For example, New Jersey’s CEPA has only a one-year statute of limitation. Other statues give you two years.
If you think you have suffered retaliation, you should collect evidence as soon as possible. Items your attorney might want to see include:
- Copies of performance evaluations for the past several years
- Any communication from management that shows they are aware you have blown the whistle
- The names and contact information of any witnesses who observed retaliatory action, such as harassment or threats
- Your own memories of retaliatory action
You should also consider whether you want to file a complaint with an administrative agency. Doing so will give them a chance to investigate the retaliation and possibly sanction your employer. For example, if you have suffered retaliation for complaining about employment discrimination, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights within 180 days of the retaliatory action.
Defend Your Rights
Retaliation is illegal—and for good reason. It is only through the courage of whistleblowers that government agencies learn about illegal activity happening in this country’s workplaces. By prohibiting retaliation, we can encourage more workers to speak out.
At the Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C., our New Jersey employment lawyers have helped many clients who have suffered retaliatory action. To learn more about how we can help, please contact us today.