Trends in Whistleblowing in New Jersey
New Jersey is moving toward more comprehensive whistleblower and retaliation law coverage by providing increased protections for employees who alert authorities to wrongdoing. There is currently a bill before the New Jersey Senate that would protect public employees from retaliation for exposing waste or fraud by a governmental entity. This bill is a direct result of the “Bridgegate” scandal that rocked the New Jersey Governor’s office in the wake of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013. As this bill provides protection for public employees it is likely that a similar provision will be advanced for the private sector. New Jersey is already known for its expansive whistleblowing protections and these recent developments will likely further cement this reputation.
Medical Whistleblowing Cases
Additionally, there have been several high profile cases in New Jersey that have further elucidated points in the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). In Hitesman v. Bridgeway, Inc., 214 NJ 235 (2014) the New Jersey Supreme Court indicated that in order to bring an improper quality of patient care claim or if the plaintiff alleges a clear mandate for public policy concerning the public health, than the plaintiff must identify an authority that sets forth a standard demonstrating a reasonable belief that the employer engaged in the misconduct.
Further, a New Jersey federal court recently held that defendant Boston Scientific could proceed with counterclaims against two of its former employees who are in the middle of a False Claims Act case. The company accuses the employees of retaining and using proprietary data. The two employees allege wrongdoing by the company in the form of kickbacks from doctors and submitting fraudulent claims about its products. This ruling is significant because it signals that there could be negative consequences for employees who, in the process of blowing the whistle obtain proprietary data from their employers.
Qui Tam Cases
On the federal stage, several recent whistleblower cases have impacted cases heard here in New Jersey. The 3rd Circuit held that when a plaintiff brings a qui tam case he/she must only establish particular details of a claims scheme and sufficient indicia of a false claim – Foglia v. Renal Ventures Mgmt., LLC, 754 F.3d 153 (3d Cir. 2014). Several other federal circuits have held that plaintiffs in qui tam cases must meet the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) rule regarding pleadings. The FRCP states that the plaintiff must plead claims of fraud with particularity. This case is significant because it eases the burden on plaintiffs when trying (at least in the initial pleadings) to show sufficient evidence that a violation occurred. Because this decision by the 3rd Circuit differs from other federal circuits, it is likely that a case involving these issues will make it to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Getting Help with Whistleblowing in New Jersey
At John J. Zidziunas & Associates, we focus on a few key areas of law that we feel most passionately about. Because employment discrimination and the whistleblowing law will often touch upon issues related to business litigation law, we also provide legal advice and representation in this area. We firmly believe that when our clients succeed, we succeed by proxy.
Experience the difference it makes when you retain an attorney who genuinely cares about you and your case. Providing advice on employment discrimination cases requires an attorney who thoroughly understands this area of law. We practice exclusively in these areas and our firm is known for providing strategic and thoughtful advice. Located in New Jersey, we are whistleblower attorneys offering comprehensive representation in Kearny, NJ. Contact our firm at (973) 509-8500.
Image courtesy of Master Isolated Images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net