Prior to this amendment, New York’s Whistleblower Law has been very narrow and provided very limited protection. That will change when the amendment goes into effect on January 26, 2022.
Last week, the New Jersey’s Appellate Decision recognized that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee because he refused to lie to support the company defend against another employee’s sexual harassment lawsuit. While that might seem obvious, the twist is that the employee alleging retaliation did not even know the other employee’s case involved sexual harassment.
Emiliano Rios is an emergency medical technician (“EMT”). He worked for Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center as the Supervisor of the Emergency Medical Services Department (“EMS”).
In April 2014, one of Mr. Rios’s coworkers, Heatherlee Bailey, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the hospital. However, Mr. Rios was completely unaware that Ms. Bailey had been sexually harassed.
Our New Jersey employment lawyers understand that times are extremely difficult for pretty much everyone right now. But, fortunately, you still have significant rights in the workplace.
Being sheltered in place or quarantined and having to engage in social distancing have become the new normal. The economy has taken an enormous hit, and things that used to be simple like buying groceries and finding supplies like toilet paper and paper towels suddenly have become challenging.
Your Employment Law Rights Are Not on Hold
New Jersey’s Appellate Division recently recognized that a transfer to a less desirable job can be actionable retaliation in violation of the state’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”).
Jeffrey Scozzafava worked as a detective in the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office as an instructor and trainer in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit. He objected about members of the unit improperly collecting evidence. After he made those objections, Somerset County transferred him to its fugitive squad. Det. Scozzafava filed a lawsuit, claiming the County’s decision to transfer him was an act of retaliation in violation of CEPA.
The trial court dismissed Det. Scozzafava’s case, finding the transfer was not an “adverse employment action” because it did not result in any reduction in his position, rank, pay or benefits. Accordingly, it found the transfer was not legally actionable under CEPA, and dismissed the case. Det. Scozzafava appealed.
On July 25, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recognized that New Jersey’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), prohibits an employer form retaliating against a lawyer because he refused to engage in an activity he reasonably believes violates attorney ethics.
Steven Trzaska worked as a patent lawyer for L’Oréal USA, Inc. The company’s French parent company, L’Oréal, S.A., instituted a quota for the number of patents applications each patent team had to reach, and warned employees that if they did not meet their quota “there would be consequences which would negatively impact their careers and/or continued employment.” In 2014, L’Oréal set a quota of 40 patents for Mr. Trzaska’s team. However, Mr. Trzaska and his team did not believe there were 40 patentable products for which they could file patent applications in good faith.
Like all lawyers, Mr. Trzaska is bound by Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPCs”). For example, one such rule established by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) prohibits patent lawyers from making frivolous or bad-faith patent applications. Likewise, an applicable Pennsylvania RPC prohibits lawyers from making false statements to a court or tribunal such as the United States Patent Office.