A public safety director and administrator in Cinnaminson Township has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was suspended in retaliation from reporting the wrongful conduct of a township official and public employees. The Township Committee was slated to terminate him, but tabled that decision pending a review of the lawsuit by the township’s insurance carrier.
It is unlawful to terminate or suspend an employee in retaliation for whistleblowing.
The public safety director, Michael P. King, filed his lawsuit pursuant to New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). According to his lawsuit, a township attorney had undertaken a separate investigation as to whether King had engaged in activities that fell within the protections of CEPA, and determined that his actions were protected. But, the lawsuit alleges, the township acted to suspend King regardless.
King is a retired chief of detectives for the county prosecutor’s office. He began working as a public safety director for Cinnaminson Township in 2011 and became administrator in 2014.
In his CEPA lawsuit, King is seeking reinstatement to his position with back pay, loss of benefits, and compensation for emotional distress, humiliation, and anguish.
King referenced instances of alleged official misconduct of a criminal nature to both the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the New Jersey State Police. A 25-year police veteran, who currently serves as deputy mayor, is alleged to have engaged in an agreement to vote-in a township committeeman as public works superintendent, in order to get his own wife a job with the county. The deputy mayor denies the allegations.
What is CEPA?
CEPA prohibits all public and private employers from retaliating against employees who refuse to participate in, disclose, or object to conduct that the employee reasonably believed was illegal or a violation of public policy. Some examples of policies and practices that are protected under CEPA, if reported by an employee, include conduct or activities to defraud:
CEPA also applies to employees who are licensed or certified health care professionals. The law can protect such workers who disclose information about what they reasonably believe to constitute improper quality of patient care.
A CEPA claim can be filed in any court of competent jurisdiction. A successful CEPA plaintiff may recover the full array of tort remedies, including emotional distress damages, reinstatement, lost wages, restoration of seniority and fringe benefits and punitive damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees.
If you have questions about a potential case, we can help. Philadelphia whistleblower lawyers at Williams Cedar have extensive experience with CEPA and other whistleblower protection laws. Whistleblowers perform an essential function and should not be silenced. We can help you ensure that your legal rights are protected. To schedule a consultation, call us at 856-874-7500 or at 856-874-7500 or contact us online. With offices located in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia we represent clients in Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.