Legislation Whistleblower State laws

New York expands whistleblower protections for private-sector employees

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Photo: Governor Kathy Hochu

Albany, NY — Legislation signed into law by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Oct. 28 expands whistleblower protections for the state’s private-sector employees.

The law provides those employees with the “same whistleblower protections available to public employees,” Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights), sponsor of S. 4394A, said in a press release. A companion bill in the New York State Assembly, A. 5144A, was sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx).

The law adds protections for former employees as well. It also expands the definition of “retaliatory action” to include threats or actions that “would adversely impact a former employee’s current or future employment and contacting or threats to contact immigration authorities.”

 

Additionally, employees are protected regardless of whether they were “acting within the scope of their job duties.” Workers only have to prove “that they reasonably believe there is a violation of the law.” Previously, to be protected, employees had to show an actual violation of the law “that created or presented a substantial and specific danger.”

Hochul adds in the release: “If we’ve learned anything from the (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s that protecting workers must be part of our overall economic recovery efforts. This legislation ensures that employees can speak out on dangerous or illegal business practices that endanger their health and well-being. No worker should have to endure poor working conditions.”

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