Eke filed a complaint with the District Court, alleging her reporting was protected by the state Conscientious Employee Protection Act and that she was wrongfully discharged in violation of public policy.
Maxim filed a motion to dismiss the case.
The District Court, in an unpublished opinion (meaning it cannot be cited as authority and is only binding on the parties) held the state CEPA existed to prevent retaliatory action by an employer against an employee “who blow(s) the whistle on organizations engaged in illegal or harmful activity … [and is] limited to activities, policies or practices of ‘employers.’” The act does not protect reports alleging the misconduct of nonemployers. Because the patient’s mother, who was not Eke’s employer, was the party cited as acting harmfully, CEPA protections could not be invoked.
Eke’s second argument that she was wrongfully discharged was then evaluated by the court. It opined that her reports to Maxim and to DYFS were as a result of her concern for the mother’s conduct and not due to her employer’s conduct. Eke did not report facts to support that her termination was in retaliation for the reports she had made. Indeed, the court stated, Eke had acknowledged Maxim’s efforts to take action in the situation after Eke had reported the mother’s noncompliance.
For these reasons, the court granted Maxim’s motion to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning that Eke cannot refile the case against Maxim).
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