Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (7)10 Oct 99


  States like N.Y., Cal., Fla., N.C., Oh., Ore., and S.C. have laws similar to New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

  Other states like Mass. and Ill. have common law court decisions that give employees essentially the same protection.

  An employer cannot retaliate when an employee threatens to report or reports a violation of the law by the employer or a co-worker to proper governmental authorities or assists in an investigation.  SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY, 1999.


   A nurse was awarded over $600,000 in general and punitive damages for lost income, emotional distress and damage to her professional reputation, plus $200,000 in attorney fees in a retaliation lawsuit against the hospital where she worked. The Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld the verdict.

   She was transferred from the unit where she worked, her hours were reduced and she was denied a promotion after she complained about and threatened to report two violations of the law she had witnessed but not personally participated in.

   Before her employer took this action the nurse said she would report hospital paramedics who failed to document a call the nurse had accompanied them on and a nurse who stole a patient’s at-home meds from the patient’s room. Higgins v. Pascack Valley Hospital, 730 A. 2d 327 (N.J., 1999).