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Young v. Schering Corp.

Supreme Court of New Jersey

February 27, 1995, Argued ; July 11, 1995, Decided

A-113 September Term 1994

Opinion

 [*19]  The opinion [**1155]  of the Court was delivered by

COLEMAN, J.

This wrongful termination of employment case requires us to determine the scope of the waiver provision of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-8. The Appellate Division held that the statutory waiver does not preclude an employee from pursuing common-law claims that are sufficiently distinct from a CEPA claim. 275 N.J. Super. 221, 645 A.2d 1238 (1994). The Appellate Division, however, affirmed the dismissal of the CEPA claim and the related common-law claims. We denied plaintiff's petition for certification. 139 N.J. 184, 652 [*20]  A.2d 172 (1994). We granted defendant's cross-petition, ibid., to determine whether the waiver provision in CEPA requires dismissal of all of plaintiffs common-law tort and contract claims. We hold that the scope of the CEPA waiver provision does not prevent an employee from proceeding with his or her common-law tort and contract [***9]  claims that are sufficiently distinct from the CEPA claim.

In January 1981 Schering Corporation (Schering) hired plaintiff William B. Young, a veterinary doctor, as Manager of International Clinical Research and Technical Services in its Animal Health Division. Schering promoted Dr. Young to Director of that department in April 1984 and to Director of its Worldwide Clinical Research and Technical Services in November 1986. In January 1988 defendant Dr. Edwin S. Brokken became Dr. Young's immediate supervisor.

Soon thereafter, Dr. Young complained to Dr. Brokken that Schering had an "unrealistic priority" of funding by investing in research and development of Florfenicol, a veterinary drug. Dr. Young believed Florfenicol would not receive Food and Drug Administration approval because studies had substantiated that Chloramphenicol, an analogue of Florfenicol, is associated with idiosyncratic aplastic anemia [a peculiarly, individualized decrease in red-blood cells] in humans, thereby causing a worldwide ban on its use in food for animals. Dr. Young disagreed with Dr. Brokken's decision to concentrate research on Florfenicol rather than Netobimin and Flunixin because he believed [***10]  research of Florfenicol violated Schering's policies and federal regulations. Dr. Young's employment was terminated in August 1988. The parties disagree over what caused the termination.

Dr. Young filed a complaint against Schering and Dr. Brokken on February 2, 1989. He alleged in Count I violations of CEPA and common-law claims of malicious interference with an advantageous business relationship, harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unjust work evaluation, wrongful discharge,  [*21]  and loss of present and future salary. In Count II, plaintiff alleged common-law wrongful discharge and denial of severance pay in violation of Schering's personnel policies. In Count III, plaintiff alleged defamation, slander and malicious interference with prospective employment opportunities. The relief plaintiff sought by the complaint was reinstatement to his former position, injunctive relief and monetary damages, among other things.

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141 N.J. 16 *; 660 A.2d 1153 **; 1995 N.J. LEXIS 324 ***; 10 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 1437

DR. WILLIAM B. YOUNG, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, v. SCHERING CORPORATION AND DR. EDWIN S. BROKKEN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

Prior History:  [***1]  On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 275 N.J. Super. 221, 645 A.2d 1238 (1994).

Young v. Schering Corp., 275 N.J. Super. 221, 645 A.2d 1238, 1994 N.J. Super. LEXIS 356 (App.Div., 1994)

CORE TERMS

retaliatory, common-law, terminated, waived, defamation, malicious, slander, retaliation, literal

Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Relation Back, Labor & Employment Law, Wrongful Termination, Whistleblower Protection Act, General Overview, Retaliation, Statutory Application, Whistleblower Protection Act, Business & Corporate Compliance, Unfair Labor Practices, Employer Violations, Interference With Protected Activities, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, Definition of Employees, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Waivers, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Courts, Common Law, Torts, Commercial Interference, Prospective Advantage