The New Jersey Legislature enacted the whistleblower statute, formerly known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), to “protect and encourage employees to report illegal or unethical workplace activities and to discourage public and private sector employers from engaging in such conduct.” Abbamont v. Piscataway Twp. Bd. of Educ., 138 N.J. 405, 431 (1994). Judge Wigenton found that the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys do not forbid L’Oreal from adopting metrics or measurable goals for its cosmetic business or define how L’Oreal may go about securing or maintaining intellectual property rights. Furthermore, the Court found that CEPA protections come into effect when “a reasonable lay person would conclude that illegal activity was going on or at the very least, is imminent” and it “is not enough to claim that a policy may, possibly, at some time in the future, violate a rule or law.” Judge Wigenton held that pressure from management to meet a quota is not equivalent to instructions to violate rules of attorney conduct, or other laws or regulations. Therefore, no CEPA violation occurred and the complaint was dismissed.
The Intellectual Property Department and the Employment Law Department at Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf counsels employers and employees regarding IP issues and their effect on the employment relationship. Please contact us at 732-363-0666 with any questions that you may have.