CEPA's statutory whistle blowing protection does not extend to independent contractors.
The plaintiff was employed by Transnet Corporation as a computer technician, and he provided technical support to Transnet's client, Colgate. While working at the Colgate facility, the plaintiff complained that the odor of smoke aggravated his asthma. After Colgate terminated the contract with Transnet and the plaintiff was not hired by Colgate, the plaintiff alleged that the refusal to hire him was in retaliation for his earlier complaints. In affirming the trial court's dismissal of the CEPA claim, the court held that CEPA's protections hinge upon a finding of actual employment and, since the plaintiff was, at most, at independent contractor, he could not invoke the statutory protections.
Case Law Alert - 3rd Qtr 2012