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State’s whistle-Blower retaliation law may reach NJ companies with foreign subsidiaries

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), which protects employees from retaliation for whistle-blowing, has an extensive reach. New Jersey companies with operations or facilities in foreign countries can find themselves being sued in-state, even if the alleged whistle-blowers work overseas.

Recent case: Pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough, with corporate offices in New Jersey, also operates a subsidiary in Argentina.

That’s where Carlos Aguerre and other employees told their supervisors about alleged “widespread unethical
and illegal marketing and sales practices” involving anti-infective and anti-cancer products. They claimed that
following their revelations, the company forced them to sign termination agreements in Argentina. After complying, the former employees alleged Schering-Plough and its foreign subsidiary actively tried to block their re-employment.

The men sued in the New Jersey courts, alleging that their forced agreements were invalid and that the subsidiary fired them in retaliation for whistle-blowing.

Now the New Jersey Superior Court has decided they should have a chance to make their case — in New Jersey. The court reasoned that CEPA applies to New Jersey companies, even if the alleged whistle-blowing involved foreign subsidiaries and occurred outside the country. (Aguerre, et al., v. Schering-Plough, et al., A-1940-04T2, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, 2007) 

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