By: Linda B. Maalouf, Esq.
A recent New Jersey Appellate Division case addresses the limitation of whistle-blower protection under New Jerseys Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). In White v. Starbucks, the plaintiff, Kari White, was a new district manager for Starbucks who was responsible for several Starbucks stores. While performing her duties as district manager, White uncovered and reported violations of company policy by some store managers which included unsanitary store conditions and refrigerator cases that were too warm to safely store food.
Following complaints by store managers, White was given a choice between resigning or being fired. White opted to resign, but then filed a CEPA claim against Starbucks. The trial court dismissed as a matter of law. The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal on appeal, relying on an earlier opinion, Massarano v. New Jersey Transit, which states that if the issues on which a CEPA plaintiff bases her claim fall within her job-related dutues, then she is not engaged in activities that are protected by CEPA. Whites claim was held to be invalid based on these cases.
If you have questions about how this may ruling affect your rights, contact one of the attorneys at Wilhelm & Roemersma today.
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