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Courts: Shady deals are more legit than blackmail?

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in Human Resources

Think you got the goods on your boss? Don’t count on profiting from it.

When real estate agent Salvatore Carrano was working on a listing, the realty company president gave him a call. The boss said the sellers were close friends of his and he wanted Carrano to doctor the paperwork to make it look like the property hadn’t been on the market too long. The president told Carrano he would handle getting the sellers’ signatures on the listing documents.

What the president didn’t tell Carrano was that he had given the listing to another agent.

When Carrano found out, he wrote a letter telling the president that, unless he received 50% of the commission, he would report the whole matter to the New Jersey Real Estate Commission. In short order, Carrano was fired.

He filed suit under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The matter went to trial, but before the jury could return a verdict, the judge dismissed the claim. Carrano appealed, but the Appellate Division upheld the dismissal because, in its view, Carrano had reported no illegal activity and was mainly concerned with his own commission.

What conclusions are to be drawn here? Falsifying information associated with the sale of a house is apparently OK? So is lying to your employee so you can cut him out of a commission? But employees who then try to blackmail their boss are out of luck?

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