A recent court decision is important to New Jersey companies that employ consultants or other independent contractors. The Conscientious Employee Protection Act [CEPA] is New Jersey's whistleblower statute. It protects “employees” from retaliation for reporting actual or suspected unlawful conduct by their employers. In D'Annunzio v. Prudential Insurance Company, decided on February 26, 2006, the Appellate Division expanded the definition of “employee” by holding that independent contractors may be “employees” and thus protected by CEPA. A multi-part test applies, so if you have questions about whether your consultants are protected from retaliation by CEPA, you should consult with counsel.