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Accounting Firm Partner Cannot be a Whistleblower Under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act

The district court for the District of New Jersey recently ruled that an accounting firm partner may not claim he was a whistleblower who was improperly fired by his firm. In Largie v. TCBA Watson Rice, Civil Action No. 10-cv-0553 (D.N.J. Aug. 20, 2013), the court considered the plaintiff Largie’s claim that he had been wrongfully terminated in retaliation for his attempted disclosures about alleged fraudulent practices at his accounting firm. The firm contended that it had fired Largie for his chronic absences and for attributing fees from the firm’s clients to another accounting firm. Largie was the director of the firm’s taxation department and an equity partner, holding a 10.5 percent interest in the firm. He also set his own schedule and did not report to anyone else. Without reaching his claims of fraudulent practices, the court found that Largie was not an employee who was entitled to protection under the CEPA statute. Largie’s ability to influence the operations and activities of the accounting firm meant that he had the power to save himself from the kind of unlawful retaliatory actions the CEPA statute was intended to prevent.

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Vincent Gentile, Commercial Litigation Lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Partner

Vincent E. Gentile litigates a broad range of civil and commercial matters from trial through appeal. He has represented major corporate clients in complex, multiparty cases and individuals and small businesses in both state and federal courts.

Vince concentrates his practice on financial litigation including defense of accountants and auditors, and on shareholder disputes involving closely held corporations, including shareholder "oppression" cases and appraisal actions. He successfully tried and defended an appeal on one of the early seminal...

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Stephen Long, Litigation lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Partner

Stephen R. Long is a trial lawyer with extensive experience in the litigation, trial, arbitration and mediation of complex commercial cases, employment disputes and the defense of professional negligence claims and asbestos injury product liability cases. He represents national law and accounting firms, Fortune 500 companies and liability, life and health insurers.

Steve has appeared in courts and administrative agencies across the country at trials, preliminary injunction hearings, dispositive motion hearings, appeal arguments and other proceedings. He has counseled corporate clients on employment matters and has handled numerous investigations of allegedly improper conduct in the workplace. Steve has defended accounting firms and individual auditors in securities class actions, “deepened insolvency” litigation and SEC investigations. He has also handled cases for large and small law firms in the defense of malpractice claims arising from transactional work, trust and estate engagements, IP matters and litigation. He recently tried to a successful conclusion a mesothelioma death case on behalf of a major valve manufacturer.

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Karen A. Denys , Drinker Biddle, Construction & Real Estate Attorney
Counsel

Karen A. Denys is counsel in the firm's Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Karen's practice focuses on construction contract drafting and litigation, real estate and land use litigation and general commercial litigation. 

Construction Law. The primary focus of Karen's practice is on construction law. Karen drafts and negotiates all forms of construction, architectural and engineering agreements (including agreements involving the design and construction of environmentally-sound green buildings) and counsels clients in project management and...

609-706-6698
John Mitchell, Environmental Litigation Lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Counsel

John P. Mitchell assists clients with large environmental lawsuits relating to soil and groundwater contamination and natural resource damages. He also handles other complex commercial litigation matters, including consumer fraud act cases, commercial foreclosure/creditors’ rights actions on behalf of large national lending institutions and other clients, actions in lieu of prerogative writs on behalf of developers and owners challenging zoning ordinances and challenging and defending municipal actions concerning development applications, commercial...

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