When the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University merged, Rutgers inherited the legal problems that faced the medical school. Last month, Rutgers settled the last of two high-profile cases that highlighted the rights of whistleblowers. Both of these lawsuits charged UMDNJ with wrongful termination following accusations of fraud and illegal bidding practices. In total, New Jersey whistleblower discrimination attorneys won almost $2 million for the two former employees.
In 2014, Rutgers reached a $700,000 settlement with Eileen Casey. Ms. Casey was a purchasing official with UMDNJ who claimed that she was wrongfully terminated after she discovered that millions of dollars worth of telecommunications contracts were being awarded without public bids.
In the second case, Edward Burke, former chief financial officer of UMDNJ’s University Hospital in Newark, claimed he was terminated after he accused top UMDNJ administrators of defrauding Medicaid. In early April, Rutgers settled with Mr. Burke for $1.2 million.
Although Rutgers has imposed tight restrictions on the disclosure of terms of the settlements through attorneys in the cases, the details of both settlements are available through the Open Public Records Act.
Are whistleblowers protected under New Jersey law?
Under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), employees who report illegal or unethical behavior at their workplace are protected from retaliatory actions. In other words, if you report such illegal practices as discrimination or fraud, or refuse to participate in fraud or illegal behaviors at work, you cannot be fired, demoted, or face other negative consequences.
Examples of fraud might include misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity.
Additionally, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who participate in investigations or legal cases involving illegal actions taken at the company.
Whistleblowers should not be afraid to speak up if they witness wrongdoing at work. A skilled New Jersey whistleblower discrimination attorney can inform you of your rights and help you understand what you should do if you are a witness to misconduct. For more information, contact Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. online or at (908) 561-5577.