Whistleblower Retaliation: Employee Protection in New York

More expansive definitions in the new amendments

The Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, signed whistleblower legislation that offers employees greater protection against retaliation. Once in effect, the protection will extend to private sector employees, who report illegal or dangerous work-related activities.

The amended law takes effect on January 26,2022.

Changes in the new law

Covered under the legislation, the definition of employees includes former employees. For example, a former employee subjected to retaliation during post-employment would now have recourse. A more expansive definition of retaliation encompasses actions or threats adversely affecting a former employee’s current or future employment. In addition, the new amendments also apply to contractors.

The law also provides protection against an employer contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities. Furthermore, the new amendment extends the statute of limitations to two years.

Another major change is that the burden of proof for employees is not as high. They only have to prove that they had a reasonable belief that violations existed that presented a substantial and specific danger. Previously, they had to prove the existence of an actual violation.

The purpose of the amendments are so employees can speak out against illegal or dangerous business practices without fearing retaliation.

What does the new law mean for employers?

According to JD Supra, employers must update policies, handbooks and postings to reflect the new requirements.

In some circumstances, employees no longer have to notify employers as per prior requirements. Also, action under the Whistleblower Law would enable increased penalties and damages for violations.

Do you have concerns or questions about employees taking whistleblower actions against your business?

If you have questions or concerns, you should consult with an experienced employment law defense attorney. Whenever possible, it is wise to do so before legal issues arise. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment with Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C.