By: Linda B. Maalouf, Esq.
In Flecker v Statue Cruises, L.L.C., the New Jersey courts were asked to decide whether an employer’s actions violated the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”). The plaintiff initially filed an action against his employer alleging violations of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. In response to this action, all employees were notified that such a suit had been filed. Employers were advised that as a result of the lawsuit, there would be no scheduled overtime. The employer also identified plaintiff as the party who filed the suit. Plaintiff was then repeatedly confronted, threatened and harassed by his coworkers to the point that he eventually resigned.
Plaintiff then filed a claim of retaliation under CEPA, New Jersey’s whistle-blower statute. Despite that the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the employer which dismissed the case entirely, the Appellate Division reversed and reinstated the case on the grounds that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the employer knew or should have known its actions would cause plaintiff’s harassment and that such action could ultimately force the plaintiff to resign. This shows the Court’s willingness to broadly interpret the anti-retaliation provisions of CEPA to include actions other than mere discharge, suspension or demotion.
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