The U.S. District Court of New Jersey recently reaffirmed that under New Jersey’s whistleblower law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), a plaintiff asserting that her employer’s conduct is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health must identify the applicable law, rule, or regulation prior to summary judgment. In Tinio v. St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, No. 13-829-JLL-JAD (D.N.J. April 6, 2015), the plaintiff, a former nurse at defendant-hospital, alleged that she was terminated in retaliation for complaining about a lack of patient care associates on the unit to which she was assigned. The plaintiff identified accreditation guidelines—that she believed the defendant violated—for the first time in her opposition brief to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court ruled that the plaintiff had not engaged in any protected whistleblowing activity because she failed to identify a law, rule, or regulation that she reasonably believed the defendant had violated when she initially complained, in her complaint, or when pressed at her deposition.
A Senate bill (S1823B), which the New York Senate Committee on Labor approved on March 15, would establish a private cause of action for an abusive work environment. This bill evolved after findings by the New York Legislature that 16 to 21 percent of employees directly experience health endangering workplace bullying, abuse and harassment, which has four times the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment. The purpose of the bill, which is presently awaiting a vote from the Senate, is to provide “legal redress for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically or economically by being deliberately subjected to abusive work environments.”
On January 7, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued three opinion letters, two of which concerned the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (The other dealt with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.) These opinion letters are the first of the new year and a new decade.
Employers Should Review Policies And Consider Self-Audits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that it was issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 180 employers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, thus commencing an audit of each company’s Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification records. Specifically, the NOI alerts businesses that ICE will be