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Volunteer Firemen May Not Pursue a Whistleblower Claim Under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act

Oct 26, 2017 | Written by: Richard P. Cushing, Esq. |

Judge Accurso of the Appellate Division recently ruled in the case of Jeffrey Sauter v. Colts Neck Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 that volunteer firemen are not entitled to the protection of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et seq., because a volunteer firefighter is not an employee of the fire company, even though such volunteers may receive Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) benefits and other remuneration.

In essence, Judge Accurso found that the LOSAP benefits were nowhere near equivalent to the monetary value of the services that firefighters perform.

The Plaintiff had argued that since volunteer fire company members are protected by the Law Against Discrimination, the Court should extend the CEPA protection to them.  The Court rejected this argument, pointing out that the language and goals of the two statutes are different.

This Opinion was approved for publication.


Richard P. Cushing, Esq., is a senior partner with Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC.  He is a trial and municipal lawyer who specializes in complex litigation, land use matters, employment law, and the representation of public entities, corporations and insurance companies. Contact Mr. Cushing at 908-735-5161 or via email.