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Suing under CEPA bars related claims

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in Human Resources

Here’s a bit of good news for employers. When an employee sues her employer under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), she can’t add additional common-law claims (such as defamation) based on the same facts. That means no second bite at the litigation apple.

Recent case: Detective Kimiiko Woods sued the Irvington Police Department, alleging that it broke the law by improperly investigating police brutality. When she was fired, she sued under CEPA, saying she had been punished for speaking out.

She also sued for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The court threw out the additional claims, concluding that employees who sue under CEPA can’t add additional claims. The CEPA is the exclusive remedy for any claim related to whistle-blowing activity. (Woods v. Township of Irvington, No. A-4972, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, 2009)

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