Leaders of labor and consumer groups in New Jersey have banded together to say that the whistleblower laws in the state are now in danger thanks to companies and corporations. These leaders have now turned to the Supreme Court in the state, hoping that the governing body will do what it can to make these laws stronger.
The laws were put into place roughly three decades ago. They are there so that employees who notice that their employers are not acting properly -- breaching security, for example, or even breaking the law -- can report it without retaliation.
However, back in 2008, an appellate court made a ruling that made this a bit more difficult. It ruled that compliance workers were not actually protected under the current laws. This case in particular involved NJ Transit, and it regarded employees whose very jobs have been described as "watchdog" positions.
In one case that was cited, a woman reported that her boss had disposed of sensitive blueprints in an unsafe manner. She claims she was then fired from her position because of it.
The group asking for changes indicated that employees who are asked to report unlawful or unsafe behavior should get more protection, indicating that they are interested in employees whose job descriptions put them into this type of a position. Without protection, the group said, employees who do the right thing and complain could be at risk.
If the Supreme Court does strengthen these laws, it could be very important for anyone facing workplace discrimination from an employer who is not pleased with reports that that person made. Employees in the role of whistleblowers should watch this case to fully understand their rights and protections.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "NJ Supreme Court must protect employee whistleblower law, labor and consumer groups say" Susan K. Livio, Jun. 11, 2014