New York Governor Kathy Hochul has enacted legislation that protects employees in the state from retaliatory actions for reporting illegal or dangerous business activities. In meaningfully amending the prior law, there are multiple important and noteworthy aspects of the new law that together give crucial support to whistleblowers.
They including, among other things, broadening who can bring a claim (so now employees includes current and former employees, and independent contractors), extending the length of time to bring a claim, adding more robust remedies when retaliation does occur, and providing a more common-sense and expansive definition of what constitutes dangerous and illegal practices to begin with.
The law is now clear that when an employee has a reasonable belief that there is a violation of the law—as in, a violation of federal, state, or local laws, executive orders, or rules and regulations, as well as judicial orders–they deserve protection.
“If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that protecting workers must be part of our overall economic recovery efforts,” Governor Hochul said. “This legislation ensures that employees can speak out on dangerous or illegal business practices that endanger their health and wellbeing. No worker should have to endure poor working conditions, so I’m proud to further protect working New Yorkers by preventing workplace retaliation.”
“This is a huge step forward in increasing worker rights in New York State,” noted Lieff Cabraser Employment Group and False Claims Act Group partner Rachel Geman, “Empire State employees who have the compassion, courage, or sense of duty to speak out to protect others deserve protection, not punishment that goes to the heart of their ability to earn a livelihood.”