I recently read an article from the New Jersey Law Journal on law.com. The article, This New Jersey Case Hints at What’s Next in Workplace Safety Amid COVID-19, discusses a New Jersey whistleblower lawsuit. The case is Mark Loeb v. Vantage Custom Classics, Inc. and Ira Neaman. Loeb, Vantage’s COO, says he was fired for recommending that employees be notified about a co-worker’s positive test for COVID-19.
The focus of the article is the court’s ruling denying the defendants motion to dismiss the case. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, this ruling may be the first in New Jersey to discuss an employer’s duty to protect workers from COVID-19.
Further, the article says: The ruling suggests that whistleblower suits related to COVID-19 and related workplace safety precautions, an active category during the pandemic, could find themselves on firm footing. This means that New Jersey employees should be encouraged to bring unsafe work condition to the attention of management. Accordingly, the Judge clearly says State and federal regulations concerning workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic contain sufficiently clear mandates of public policy to serve as the basis for a whistleblower.
The punishment for retaliation against an employee who legally raises health and safety concerns can be severe. The plaintiff in this case is seeking a significant amount of list wages. He is also seeking emotional distress damages and punitive damages.
Previously, I wrote about this issue in June. That blog discusses a Philadelphia City Council unanimously approved Bill No. 200328. That Bill made it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who complain about unsafe work conditions due to the coronavirus. This New Jersey ruling is in line with the Philadelphia Bill. All of which is good news for employees.
Call me if you have experienced termination, harassment, or other punishment for speaking out about unsafe work conditions. You have the law on your side. Therefore, I would be happy to discuss your situation with you and explore your options and rights.