Revisiting White v. Starbucks

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Speaker:John J. Sarno

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Thanks to the efforts of the Employers Association of New Jersey (EANJ) the Supreme Court of New Jersey has let stand the Appellate Division decision in White v. Starbucks, a whistleblower case that will have a far-reaching favorable impact on New Jersey employers.

In this case,  Kari White, a former district manager for Starbucks Corp., sued her employer under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) - commonly called the whistleblower law - in a case originally  dismissed by Superior Court Judge Michael J. Nelson in Essex County in 2009. Nelson ruled White could not bring the case because "the issues on which she bases her claim fall within the sphere of her job-related duties, thus disqualifying her as a whistleblower as a matter of law."  The case raises the game-changing issue of whether an employee can blow the whistle on activities she is paid to perform.

On appeal, White's attorney, Jonathan I. Nirenberg, of East Hanover, wrote in a court brief that White was fired in retaliation for objecting to numerous violations of state and federal health codes. Newark attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association/New Jersey, argued CEPA case law offers many examples of employees who successfully brought suits based on the claim that they had suffered retaliation "for engaging in conduct that was merely a part of their job."

But John Sarno, president of EANJ, who argued as a friend of the court at the Jan. 26 appellate court hearing, said Nelson was correct to dismiss White's suit. According to EANJ, "the purpose of [the whistleblower law] is to protect the public and the conscientious employee ... not to litigate controversies arising out of the routine discharge of job responsibilities. Such a purpose would transform every routine employee disclosure or refusal into a civil action. It would also suppress job advancement, as employers would think twice about assigning more job responsibility if they thought that every employee who complained about lack of time or resources could sue as a whistleblower."

On April 4, 2012, the Supreme Court of New Jersey agreed with EANJ.

John Sarno will discuss this case and explain why it creates a favorable legal standard for employers in New Jersey.

Prior to the Webinar, the following materials can be reviewed:

Amicus Brief - White v Starbucks

White Starbucks Appellate Division Decision

John J. Sarno

Registrations Fees:
$55 for EANJ Members, N.J. State Chamber Members, SHRM Partners, NJBIA Members and NJMEP Members (unlimited registrations per company)
$95 Non-Members (unlimited registrations per company)
Long distance phone charges will apply

(After registering, confirmation, instructions & reminders will be emailed to you directly from our Conference Service Provider:

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