Employment Law

What to do if You Uncover Illegal or Fraudulent Activities at Your Workplace?

Westfield employent lawyer Fred Shahrooz Scampato.

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot. - Czesław Miłosz

 

What to do if you uncover illegal or fraudulent activities at your workplace?

Perhaps you work for a trucking company and your employer is intentionally encouraging you to avoid scale stations or ignoring your pleas to make your truck safe for highway use? Maybe you work for a pharmaceutical or medical device company which is intentionally bypassing applicable safety rules and regulations? Or possibly you work in an accounting department and your company is trying to defraud its clients or the government? Maybe you work for a nursing home or hospital that is taking in Medicare money but not really providing a service or providing one that is not medically necessary?

Sign Up for E-News

The purpose of this article is to advise you of the statutes that protect whistleblowers and allow them to file actions if they have been retaliated against for coming forward. 

Here are a couple of Federal and State Statutes that may apply in circumstances such as this:

The NJ Conscientious Employment Protection Act (“CEPA), provides protection from retaliatory action for employees who "blow the whistle" on their employers. The statute protects those employees who disclose or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that an employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, rule or regulation, a crime or a violation of public policy concerning the public health, safety, welfare or the environment. The law also protects employees who either refuse to participate in illegal activity or who speak out against the illegal activity of others at their place of employment.

The False Claims Act  (31 U.S.C. Sections 3729 through 3733). Under the Federal False Claims Act, a private person, with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts, may sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government. In these actions, also known as qui tam actions, the Federal Government has the right to intervene and take over the action. If the government declines to intervene, the private plaintiff may proceed on his or her own. The statute provides incentive to private plaintiffs to expose fraud, granting them between 15 percent and 25 percent of any award or settlement amount of the money owed to the government.

The New Jersey False Claims Act was enacted in 2008 and basically mirrors the Federal statute. Under the NJ False Claims act, private parties may sue on the state to prosecute third parties who have made false or fraudulent claims for money from the State government. As with the Federal statute, the state statute allows private plaintiffs to sue on behalf of the state and potentially receive a percentage of any verdict or settlement obtained in that suit.

If you suspect that your company or supervisor is violating safety rules and regulations, committing illegal or criminal acts or participating in submitting false bills or defrauding the government, then we recommend that you take the following steps:

1. Memorialize all of the whistleblowing event(s) in writing. Imagine yourself as a police detective writing an incident report. Describe in full detail what happened. Who was involved and who witnessed it? When did the incident(s) take place? Where did it/they take place? Write down, to the best of your ability, all of the specific conversations that took place. If you can recall exact dialogue, then place those sentences down in quotations. 

2. Place this writing in a personal journal that is kept at home, not at work. Sometimes if a person is wrongfully fired, they are immediately escorted out of the premises and are not allowed to return to their work station/office to retrieve their personal property.

3. If you want to send written information concerning the whistleblowing situation to your home computer or to your own attorney, then use your personal email account and not your work email. Your employer may legally be able to read all of your work emails. If you get fired before you can complain internally or to a public body, then you would most likely not be able to raise a claim or assert that you were fired in retaliation for whistleblowing activities.

4. Read your company's employee handbook, especially the sections on whistle blowing, open door policy, and/or business ethics and any specified complaint procedures. Typically your handbook will provide that the company welcomes you to communicate your concerns. The handbook will also identify the person(s) and/or title of the person(s) to whom you are to present your complaint.

5. Meet with an experienced employment law attorney who can provide you with advice as to whether you have a legitimate whistle blowing claim, and guide you through the steps of communicating the complaint either through internal channels or to the appropriate public body. Ideally, you should meet with an attorney before you communicate your complaint. This way, your attorney is in place in case your employer discourages you or retaliates against you for raising your complaint.  In that event, your attorney can quickly step forward and if need be litigate on your behalf or pursue alternative dispute resolution means.

Whether you are an employer looking for assistance with employment law issues, or an employee who feels unfairly treated, Fred Shahrooz Scampato can provide you with the benefit of his over twenty years experience in employment law. His goal is to prevent workplace problems from becoming costly litigation. He can be reached at Scampato@aol.com, Scampato@njlaborlaw.com or 908-301-9095. Visit his website at www.njlaborlaw.com.
 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Clark PD Plans DWI Checkpoint

August 20, 2017

CLARK, NJ — The Clark Township Police Department has issued notification they will be holding a DWI checkpoint beginning on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 9 p.m. and ending at 3 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27.

The checkpoint will be located in the northbound lanes of Brant Avenue in Clark, directly in front of Mother Seton High School. Vehicles headed towards the Garden State Parkway ...

Shelley Brindle: ‘Charlottesville is Personal’

August 16, 2017

My husband Kip and I are graduates of University of Virginia, as is my sister, brother-in-law and two of my nieces. What’s going on in Charlottesville is personal, for many reasons.

Returning home from the vigil Sunday night, I couldn't be prouder of our community. In the face of this horror, we are brought together by hope and the presence of each other.

I grew up in Virginia, ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_899a3b34adbc970f73e6_d5e83618aa81fc0517f5_solar_eclipse_live_streaming_8.21.17

Mon, August 21, 12:00 PM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Live Screening of Rare Solar Eclipse

Education

Carousel_image_69f79414e501884b5b87_f961661d15e1702a03a1_eclips_eye_safety_infographic__cropped_

Mon, August 21, 12:00 PM

Trailside Nature and Science Center, New Providence

Solar Eclipse Viewing at Trailside Nature and ...

History Cards for Kids...And Yes, Maybe Their Parents, Too

August 20, 2017

So what do we tell the children?...about the past, that is.

After a successful pilot program at the Deserted Village last fall, Union County’s Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs is rolling out a History Trading Card series for youngsters to learn more about the history of the people and events that shaped Union County -- and the country --we know today.

“We live in a ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Multiple Bicycles Reported Stolen & More

August 16, 2017

 August 9, 2017 12:08 p.m.

Mr. Kareem Jordan, age 42, of Plainfield, NJ, was arrested at the Middlesex County Courthouse on the strength of one outstanding warrant issued by the Westfield Municipal Court. Mr. Jordan was transported to the Union County Jail in lieu of posting the requisite bail.

 

August 5, 2017 4:57 p.m.

A business located in the 200 block of E. South Avenue ...

Obituaries

Oct 24, 1926 - Aug 14, 2017
Elizabeth H. List, 90, of Westfield and Cape May, NJ, died peacefully surrounded by her family ...
Read more

Fostering Healthy Habits in Young Children

August 17, 2017

Every parent knows that fostering healthy habits in children is important, but there is no instruction manual for how to go about it. It can be tough to recognize habits forming before they become routine, and, as most parents know firsthand, bad habits are hard to break. In the middle of a tantrum or a broccoli boycott, it can even seem like giving in to unhealthy habits is the only option. But ...

Westfield Area YMCA Healthy U Program Recognizes Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and many families need support changing their families’ habits with the ultimate goal of being a healthy weight. That’s why the Westfield Area YMCA wants families to improve eating habits and increase physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects one in six children in the U.S.

Richard DeLuca Joins GWACC Board

Richard DeLuca of the Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper law firm has joined the board of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce (GWACC).

“We are fortunate to have Mr. Richard DeLuca join our board of directors. His experience will complement those of the current board members and I am sure that he will be a very active member and bring new and fresh ideas to all ...

Meet Pete Brown

Name: Pete Brown, manager at Gartland and Mellina Group (GMG), a management consulting firm in New York City.

Years in Westfield: 9

Family: 

Wife, Megan, Realtor at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty 

Children:

Seamus,  9

Fiona, 7

Declan,  5

MEET PETE

This devoted husband and loving father of three ...

Small Dog Found in Roselle Park Monday

UPDATE: Reuninted with owner.

ORIGINAL POST: Small male dog found on Faitoute Avenue in Roselle Park around 6 p.m. Monday. He was not wearing a collar. Picked up by Roselle Park Police Department.

Protecting Your Credit; Before, During and After a Divorce

Unfortunately, at the time a divorce is finalized an individual can encounter new and unanticipated financial obligations. Any debt that was incurred during the marriage and will not be paid off at the time of divorce needs to be addressed in the parties’ settlement agreement. It is important that any written settlement reached between the divorcing parties be thorough and clear as to which ...

Bloomfield Man Fatally Shot by Police Following Domestic Dispute

August 19, 2017

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — A Bloomfield police officer was involved in a shooting on Greenbrook Drive Friday morning, according to town officials and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. 

Leroy Frank, 60, was shot and killed by a Bloomfield police officer on Friday after he lunged with a knife at another officer, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly said in a ...