On October 28, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation expanding New York’s whistleblower law. The new law took effect on January 26, 2022. The amendment expands the protected individuals to include current employees, former employees, and independent contractors and makes additional changes further detailed below.
The amended law will protect whistleblowers from retaliation if they disclose or threaten to disclose a policy or practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes violates a law, rule, or regulation, which greatly expands the law’s coverage. Previously, the law only protected whistleblowers from retaliation if they complained about an actual violation of law and the violation presented a “substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety.”
Employees will also no longer be required to give employers a reasonable opportunity to correct any alleged violation and instead are only required to make a “good faith effort” to notify the employer of the violation before disclosing it to a public body. However, no notice is required if the employee reasonably believes reporting the violation would be futile or it will result in the destruction of evidence, or harm to the employee.
Prohibited Retaliatory Actions
Additionally, the amendment expands the forms of prohibited retaliation. Employers cannot take adverse employment action against whistleblowers, such as termination or suspension; threaten a former employee’s current or future employment; or contact or threaten to contact immigration authorities to report an employee or a family member.
Takeaway: New York employers should be aware of these new whistleblower protections and consider updating their policies and handbooks. Employers with questions about the Whistleblower Law and implementation of practices to stay compliant can contact Tracy Armstrong or another member of the Wilentz Employment Law Team.
The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.
This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk. We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability. Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein. We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.
We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.
If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.