Court awards $2 million to terminated whistleblower.
A New Jersey blood bank employee alerted his supervisors that staffing schedules left serious gaps in available skill sets, including personnel capable of performing “cross matches” and other blood-screening procedures. The lack of qualified technicians created a potentially life-threatening situation for at least one patient who required a cross match from the Bayonne Medical Center blood bank.
The whistleblowing employee also pointed out that his direct supervisor did not have the requisite credentials for her job as established the New Jersey State Sanitary Code.
Management ignored the employee’s complaint, but the unqualified supervisor learned of the complaint. Thereafter the employee found that he was being repeatedly disciplined and “micromanaged” for the two months leading up to his termination after twenty years as a staff hematologist.
After investigating, the New Jersey Department of Health substantiated the terminated employee’s allegations that the medical center’s practices violated state regulations. A New Jersey Superior Court found that the termination was an intentional act of egregious retaliation under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“Whistleblower Act”).
In addition to paying the former employee $2 million, the medical center must modify its staffing plans and must reassign the under-qualified supervisor who retaliated against the employee.
New Jersey Whistleblower Act
New Jersey law prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee calling attention to employer practices that the employees believes is illegal or that constitutes improper patient care.
The Whistleblower Act notice must be conspicuously displayed. Additionally, employers with 10 or more employees must distribute notice of this law to their employees annually.
The notice is included as part of GovDoc’s New Jersey State-on-One laminated poster in English and Spanish, along with the other workplace postings required for New Jersey employers:
- Unemployment and Disability Insurance
- State Wage and Hour Abstract
- Schedule of Hours for Minors
- Child Labor Law Abstract
- Discrimination in Employment
- Payment of Wages
- Notice (Workers’ Compensation)
- Family Leave Act
- Conscientious Employee Protection Act (Whistleblower)
- Conscientious Employee Protection Act (Whistleblower) (Spanish)
- Smoking Prohibited
- Family Leave Insurance
- Employer Obligation to Maintain and Report Records