New York Expands Employee Whistleblower Protections
Effective January 26, 2022, section 740 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL) will be expanded to enhance protections for employee whistleblowers.
Until now, the New York whistleblower protection law has been interpreted fairly narrowly and was limited. The old protections were limited to violations of law that created or presented a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety. The new amendments to the law will expand employee protections in significant ways and is much broader.Employer’s may not take any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee:
- Discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or a public body any activity, policy or practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of any law, rule or regulation or poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety;
- Provides information to, or testifies before, any public body investigating any such activity, policy or practice; or
- Objects or refuses to participate in any such activity, policy or practice.
If any employee is retaliated against for engaging in the above protected activities, he or she may sue in court and can seek remedies which include injunctive relief, reinstatement, lost compensation, a civil penalty of up to $10,000, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
Other notable changes include an expanded statute of limitations for filing a claim from one year to two years and expanded coverage that includes former employees and independent contractors.
These amendments to the NYLL are similar to the protections that already exist in New Jersey under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), which provides for broad protections for whistleblowers in New Jersey.