On July 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that an employee who monitors corporate compliance—a so-called “watchdog” employee—can engage in protected activity by blowing the whistle under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) in the course of performing the tasks and functions of the job for which he or she was hired. Lippman v. Ethicon, No. A-65/66-13. In so ruling, the Court rejected a well-established line of lower court cases holding that activities which are part and parcel of an employee’s assigned responsibilities cannot amount to whistleblowing—otherwise known as the “job-duties” exception.
Joseph C. O'Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.
Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all types on behalf of employers, before federal and state courts, arbitral tribunals (e.g. FINRA and AAA), and state and federal administrative agencies throughout the U.S. Joe has litigated employment-related lawsuits alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wage and hour violations, Title IX violations, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business related torts. Joe’s practice includes representing clients in complex class and collective litigation, including alleged violation of state and federal pay equity laws, violations of wage and hour laws and discrimination claims. Joe's experience includes appellate work in both federal and state courts.
In addition to his extensive litigation practice, Joe regularly advises employers, writes and speaks on a wide range of employment related issues. He counsels clients concerning pay equity, use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, management of personnel problems, ADA/FMLA compliance, reductions in force, investigation of employee complaints, state and federal leave laws, wage and hour issues, employment policies and contracts.
Joe represents employers in a variety of industries including financial services, higher education (colleges and universities), pharmaceuticals/medical devices, health care, technology, communications, fashion, consumer products, publishing, media and real estate. He frequently writes articles concerning developments in the law and speaks at seminars concerning legal developments in the labor and employment law field.
2014 was another busy year for developments in whistleblowing and retaliation law in New Jersey. This blog post summarizes noteworthy state and federal cases for employers to consider in the new year.