On September 14, 2004, Governor McGreevey signed legislation that requires New Jersey employers to annually notify their employees of their rights under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). Designed to protect employee “whistleblowers,” the statute makes it unlawful for employers to take adverse employment action against employees who disclose, object to, or refuse to participate in certain actions that the employees reasonably believe are either illegal or in violation of public policy.

The amendment requires companies employing ten or more people to distribute an annual notice to all New Jersey employees explaining the employees’ “protections, obligations, rights and procedures” under CEPA. This notice can be distributed in an electronic or written format. The amendment requires that the notice be set forth in English, Spanish and any other language spoken by a majority of employees, the latter at the discretion of the employer.

According to the New Jersey Law Journal, whistleblower suits have more than doubled since 2001. From June 30, 2003 through June 30, 2004, 275 CEPA claims have been filed which is a 102% increase from 2001. By contrast, Civil Part filings have increased only 24% over the same period. It is critical that New Jersey employers handle CEPA or whistleblower issues with caution.

Stark & Stark attorneys can help your Company develop notices that satisfy CEPA’s new requirements.