The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey recently dismissed an employee’s lawsuit, finding that her refusal to alter an internal report did not constitute protected activity under the state’s whistleblower law.
Plaintiff was a Director of Compliance at a health insurance company. She was asked to prepare an internal report analyzing the “root causes” of certain customer complaints. Her report concluded that her division was responsible for most, if not all, of the customer complaints. She claimed that her supervisors became upset after reviewing the report and asked her to re-examine the findings. After reviewing the report, plaintiff did not make any changes.
The company subsequently discharged plaintiff for failing to properly supervise one of her subordinates because plaintiff knowingly permitted one of her subordinates to run a private travel business from his desk at work. In fact, she used his services to plan three personal vacations.
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”). She alleged that she was terminated in retaliation for refusing to alter the internal report. The trial court concluded that plaintiff’s refusal to alter an internal report did not constitute protected activity and dismissed her lawsuit. The Appellate Division agreed, finding that plaintiff’s reports were solely for internal use and there was no risk of any harm to the public.