The gradual reopening of society during the COVID-19 pandemic presents certain challenges for employers and employees to navigate. One of these involves the decision to bring employees back into the office rather than allow them to continue working remotely. Employers must be extremely diligent in following all state mandated health guidelines when bringing employees back to the office.
Employment Attorneys Serving Northern and Central New Jersey
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors and nurses throughout New Jersey have been forced to perform their duties in unsafe working environments. Not only do these front-line workers face increased risk for exposure to the novel coronavirus, they also fear losing their jobs for voicing concerns over equipment shortages and other safety issues.
Whistleblower protection laws forbid employers from firing, demoting, or otherwise punishing an employee for disclosing or refusing to participate in illegal conduct. Without these laws, employees would have little ability to object to business activities they believe are illegal or dangerous. Whistleblower protection laws are essential to the functioning of our democracy.
On February 21, 2018, the United States Surpreme Court ruled 9-0 in Digital Realty Trust v. Somers that whistleblowers cannot bring a claim under the Dodd Frank Act if they did not notify the Securities and Exchange Commission in writing. While this is considered a blow to protect whistleblowers, there are still three different ways for an New Jersey employee of a publicly traded company to vindicate their rights.
The federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia yesterday overturned the dismissal of an in-house patent lawyer's claim that he was fired because he refused to participate in conduct that would have violated the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys and the rules of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In that case, a French beauty company required patent in-house counsel to satisfy a quota of patent applications which if not met, would result in termination. Plaintiff objected that he could not submit applications that did not have a
In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd Frank Act which in part was designed to expand legal protection to whistleblowing employees of publicly traded companies who disclose, object to or refuse to participate in conduct that violates federal securities laws. On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to decide whether the Dodd Frank Act protects a whistleblowing employee who objects to federal securities laws violations to company management but not to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The attorneys at Green Savits have handled many whistleblower cases on behalf of police officers, doctors, corporate senior management, sales employees and others. So when we observed the firing of FBI Director James Comey, we immediately recognized the classic elements of whistleblower cases being played out on the national stage. The Comey firing is instructive on how whistleblower cases are proven.
An interesting NY Times article in the Business Section on December 18, 2016 reported that a study of Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) and Dodd Frank whistle-blowers found that exposing coporate wrong-doing actually changed corporate conduct for the better.
There are a number of whistleblower laws that are intended to protect employees who report, object to or refuse to participate in conduct that may be either illegal, fraudulent or endangers the health and safety of individuals and the public. Within the past month, there have been two significant legal developments that have interpreted New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Proctection Act ("CEPA") and the Dodd Frank law passed by Congress in 2010.