A legal question recently presented to the New Jersey Superior Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by a New Jersey based Defendant Corporation for answering was whether its former Plaintiff employee who worked remotely for it from her home in North Carolina was protected from an alleged unlawful retaliatory discharge in violation of New Jersey’s whistleblower law entitled the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). In answering this question in the affirmative by denying Defendant’s motion, the Superior Court accepted Plaintiff’s argument that CEPA applied to the Plaintiff because based on the facts pled in the Complaint, New Jersey had a substantial relationship to the parties and facts at issue. The Plaintiff in this case is represented by Mashel Law, L.L.C. (Mashel Law).
Plaintiff worked from her home in North Carolina for the Defendants as its Human Resources Manager. As such, she was tasked with applying New Jersey labor and employment laws when drafting an employee handbook for the Defendant. Plaintiff was responsible for ensuring Defendant complied with New Jersey laws. In her role as Human Resources Manager, Plaintiff repeatedly complained to her superiors about how the Defendant Corporation was violating the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave law and the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program Act by failing to have a policy in place paying their New Jersey employees paid sick time. Plaintiff alleges in this lawsuit that she was wrongfully discharged by the Defendant (and individual decisionmakers) for disclosing and objecting about her reasonable belief that the Defendant was violating New Jersey law by engaging in these alleged unlawful practices.
In arguing for dismissal of Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Defendant claimed the fact that the Plaintiff worked for it from North Carolina meant that as a matter of law she could not avail herself of New Jersey’s CEPA law. In opposition, Mashel Law argued, inter. alia., that even though the New Jersey Supreme Court had yet to determine whether an out-of-state remote worker who worked for a New Jersey-based company is protected by New Jersey’s employment laws, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Halliday v. Bioreference Labs, 2022 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1394 *32 (App. Div. August 3, 2022) had explicitly stated the New Jersey Legislature did not intend to limit CEPA’s protections to only employees who live and work in New Jersey. Notably, in Halliday, a CEPA case, the Plaintiff employee worked for a New Jersey corporation from a job site located in Houston, Texas. Our Appellate Division in reversing a dismissal below and remanding for further factfinding found the trial level court had court failed to sufficiently analyze all factors relevant to determining if New Jersey had a substantial relationship to the parties and facts at issue.