Posting By Employer Regarding Pending Legal Action Can Violate CEPA
In Flecker v Statue Cruises, LLC, the plaintiff filed an action against his employer alleging violations of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. In response, the employer posted a memorandum directed to all employees informing them of the suit. The memo specifically identified plaintiff as the party responsible for filing the suit and advised employees that as a result, no employees would be scheduled for overtime. Immediately thereafter, plaintiff was confronted, threatened and harassed by coworkers. Eventually the harassment became so great that plaintiff resigned. Plaintiff then filed a claim of retaliation under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), New Jersey’s whistle-blower statute.
The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the employer and the case was dismissed. However, on November 14, 2012, the Appellate Division reversed this ruling and reinstated the case, noting there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the employer knew or should have known its memorandum would incite the plaintiff’s co-workers and that such action could ultimately force the plaintiff to resign. This is yet another example to show that CEPA is far-reaching, and protects workers from a wide assortment of retaliatory conduct far greater than mere discharge, suspension or demotion.