An Edison Township Police Officer, Joseph Kenney, recently obtained a settlement of $250,000 plus legal fees in a whistleblower lawsuit he filed after experiencing retaliation on the job.
Officer Kenney’s suit arose out of a fatal car accident in 2008. Officer Kenney alleged that his sergeant failed to assist him in pulling victims from an overturned car. The officer alleged that his sergeant made derogatory comments about the South Asian victims in the car, one of whom died. After Officer Kenney filed a complaint about the incident with the department, he was placed on a four day administrative leave and charged with insubordination.
On the fourth day of trial, the Township defendant agreed to pay Officer Kenney a substantial monetary settlement. The officer, who is a 27 year veteran of the police department, expressed satisfaction with the result, saying that he stood up for what he believed was right and received justice.
The actions taken against Officer Kenney after he filed the complaint about his sergeant implicated the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), which is New Jersey’s whistleblower law. Under this law, an employer may not take retaliatory actions against an employee after they report illegal or unethical activities in the workplace. This law was implemented by the State to encourage employees to report inappropriate activities in the workplace without fearing that their jobs will be placed in jeopardy. If you are a whistleblower or are considering becoming one, seek the advice of an employment attorney who can advise you as to your rights.