When unlawful behavior manifests itself in the workplace and can lead to harm inflicted on others, including the general public in New Jersey and elsewhere, a whistleblower can correct the situation. That is why state and federal employment law provides whistleblower protections against workplace retaliation.
What whistleblower protection laws do
A whistleblower is someone who reports a violation of internal employer workplace policies or external local, state or federal laws. A whistleblower might be a:
- Company worker, manager or executive
- State or federal agency employee
- Anyone witnessing wrongdoing
Whistleblowers could report company policy violations or those who break local, state or federal laws or regulations. Such violations could become especially harmful if they affect the environment or national security. They also cause harm when corruption and fraud occur to bypass laws and regulations that are in place to protect others against harm.
Former New York City Police Officer Frank Serpico’s famous whistleblower story became a popular Hollywood film starring Dustin Hoffman after corrupt officers tried to kill him for whistleblowing on the illegal activities inside the police department.
Retaliation comes in many forms
Fortunately, murder is not a common way to retaliate against whistleblowers as was attempted in Serpico’s case. More often, the retaliation is expressed by firing individuals, reduced work hours, changes in scheduling and intimidation. Those who engage in retaliation often utilize questionable tactics to make the punishment seem legitimate, but the ultimate aim is to get rid of and punish the whistleblower.
New Jersey employment law protects whistleblowers
New Jersey and federal employment laws forbid whistleblower retaliation. OSHA accepts and investigates whistleblower retaliation complaints by interviewing the whistleblower. As the complaint respondent, the employer also gets interviewed and apprised of the complaint and any state or federal laws potentially violated. Once the complaint is investigated, OSHA determines the appropriate response.
While state and federal laws protect whistleblowers, that protection is useless if you cannot use it effectively. An experienced New Jersey employment law attorney can help ensure whistleblower protection and punish violators.