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Info about expensive case remains private

New Jersey residents might like to know the details of a wrongful termination lawsuit that cost taxpayers more than five million dollars, and information regarding the suit may be revealed if one assemblyman gets his way. The chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee filed a request on March 27 to have documents released related to a whistleblower lawsuit spanning years that was settled in Oct. 2016.

Confidentiality must be waived in order to release details regarding the settlement. The whistleblower, a former prosecutor in Hunterdon County, alleged that Governor Chris Christie's administration failed to pursue a criminal indictment that involved the governor's supporters in 2010. The prosecutor said that the attorney general stopped the indictment of a sheriff and two deputies charged with official misconduct and falsification of documents and fired the prosecutor when he protested. The attorney general paid $3.8 million in fees due to the suit while the administration settled the case for $1.5 million.

The whistleblower told a superior that he believed the case was dropped for political reasons and was then suspended before being fired. A grand jury indicted the law enforcement officers who were charged before the case was dismissed. While taxpayers footed the bill for the wrongful termination case, the details available to the public are scant. The whistleblower filed the suit in 2012 and was given access to sealed grand jury records that he said would prove his allegations, but these records are still confidential.

After reporting improper behavior, retaliation could happen. This takes place when one faces negative consequences after reporting discrimination, harassment or illegal activity in the workplace. State and federal laws encourage employees to report unethical or illegal activities and safeguard employees from retaliation. In a case like this, an employee might wish to file a wrongful termination suit.

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