New York Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower Laws of New York

A Summary of New York Whistleblower Laws

New York is an employment-at-will state. This means employees can be discharged from work for any reason or no reason. However, the state has protections that are used to protect employees from wrongful retaliation. New York does not have a common law protection since the state does not recognize any public policy as an exception to the at-will doctrine. Therefore, whistleblowers who suffer wrongful retaliation can only rely on the state’s statutory protections. Statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature to address specific subject areas, e.g., workers’ compensation.

This is a summary of New York Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in New York

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in New York

Labor Law

Employers are not allowed to take any adverse personnel action against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing or threatening to disclose a policy or practice of the employer that is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation or one that poses a substantial danger to public health and safety to a public body or supervisor.
  • Providing information or testifying before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into the employer’s illegal policy or practice or dangerous practices.
  • Objecting to or refusing to participate in illegal activities.

For employees to be eligible for protection under this statute, they are required to first notify a supervisor of the employer of the violation and allow the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the violation. N.Y. Lab. Law § 740.

Labor Law-Health Care

Health care employers are not allowed to discharge, demote, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing a policy or practice that the employee believes constitutes improper quality of care or improper workplace safety.
  • Objecting to or refusing to participate in activities, policies, or practices of the employer that constitute improper quality of care or improper workplace safety.

Disclosures under this statute can be made to a public body, news media outlet, or social media forums that are available to the public. Also, it is not a must for an employee to be absolutely sure that an employer is engaging in illegal or inappropriate practices, he or she only needs to believe in good faith that the employer is engaging in such practices. Employees are also required to disclose the improper acts to a supervisor of the employer and allow the employer reasonable time or opportunity to correct such acts. However, this does not apply if the employee believes in good faith that reporting to a supervisor will not result in any corrections of the improper acts. N.Y. Lab. Law § 741.

Civil Service

Public employers are not allowed to discipline or take any adverse personnel action against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing a violation of a law, rule, or regulation, that creates a substantial danger to public health and safety to a governmental body.
  • Disclosing improper governmental actions.

N.Y. CLS Civ. S.§ 75-b.

New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Act

It is against the law for an employer or representative of an employer to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Making a complaint or threatening to make a complaint concerning the violation of rights under this statute.
  • Causing the institution of a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into the employer’s violation of a law, rule, or regulation.

N.Y. Lab. Law § 862-e.

Construction Industry

It is against the law for an employer or representative of an employer to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Making a complaint or threatening to make a complaint concerning the violation of rights under this statute.
  • Causing the institution of a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into the employer’s violation of a law, rule, or regulation.

N.Y. Lab. Law § 861-f.

Human Rights Law

It is considered an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to discharge, expel or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Opposing discriminatory practices forbidden under this statute.
  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Testifying or participating in a proceeding under this statute.

Under this statute, discrimination based on age,  race,  creed,  color,  national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex,  disability,  predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or status as a victim of domestic violence is prohibited. N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(1)(e).

Non-profit Corporations

Non-profit Corporations with 20 or more employees and with annual revenue in excess of one million dollars in the prior fiscal year are not allowed to harass, intimidate or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for reporting suspected misconduct. N.Y. CLS N-PCL § 715-b.

Adult Care Facility

No adult care facility is allowed to take any reprisal against an employee or resident in retaliation for filing a complaint concerning the operation of the facility or participating in an investigation of such a complaint. N.Y. CLS Soc. Serv. § 460-d.

Psychological Stress Evaluators

Employers are not allowed to discharge, discipline or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a complaint or testifying in a proceeding concerning the violation of this statute. Under this statute, employers are prohibited from requiring, suggesting, or permitting employees to submit a psychological stress evaluator examination (e.g., lie detector test). N.Y. Lab. Law § 736.

Schools

It is illegal to retaliate against any school employee who reports illegal or inappropriate financial practices of a school district, charter school, or board of cooperative educational services. N.Y. CLS Educ. § 3028-d.

Toxic Substances

Employers are not allowed to discharge, discipline, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Instituting a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this statute.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by this statute on behalf of himself, herself, or others.

N.Y. Lab. Law § 880(3).

Workers’ Compensation

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Requesting a claim form for injuries sustained during the course of employment.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this statute.    

N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 120.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in New York

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, retaliation claims should be filed with the appropriate court within 3 years of the retaliatory action.

Labor Law

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed within 1 year of the retaliation. Health care employees who suffer retaliation should file a lawsuit within 2 years of the retaliation.

Human Rights Law

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights within 1 year of the retaliation.

Toxic Substances

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the industrial commissioner of the New York Department of Labor within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

Workers’ Compensation

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board within 2 years of the retaliation.

Whistleblower Hotlines in New York

To file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, call 1-888-392-3644.

To file a complaint with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, call (877) 632-4996.

To file a complaint with the New York Department of Labor, call (518) 457-9000.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in New York

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who carry out wrongful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for a combination or any of the following:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights.
  • Compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other remuneration.
  • Litigation costs, including disbursements and reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • Plus any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers who violate this statute may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Restoration of privileges.
  • Payment of compensation lost as a result of the retaliation.
  • Litigation costs, including attorney’s fees.

Also, violators of this statute may be liable for a fine ranging from $100 to $500.

Labor Law

Employers who carry out wrongful retaliation against healthcare employees may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000. In addition, they may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights.
  • Compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other remuneration.
  • Litigation costs, including disbursements and reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • Injunctive relief.

Civil Service

Violators of this statute may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Dismissal of the disciplinary proceeding if appropriate.
  • Reinstatement with back pay.
  • Plus any other appropriate relief.

New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Act

Violators of this statute may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $2500 for the first violation and per violation, and $5000 for any subsequent violation within a 5 year period. Also, they may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be punished by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or a fine not exceeding $25,000 for a first offense and by imprisonment for not more than sixty days or a fine not exceeding $50,000 for any subsequent offense.

Construction Industry

Violators of this statute may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $2500 for the first violation and per violation, and $5000 for any subsequent violation within a 5 year period. Also, they may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction may be punished by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or a fine not exceeding $25,000 for a first offense and by imprisonment for not more than sixty days or a fine not exceeding $50,000 for any subsequent offense.

Adult Care Facility

Violators of this statute may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $1000, per day per violation.

Psychological Stress Evaluators

Employers who carry out wrongful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Double amount of any loss of wages and benefits.
  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.

Toxic Substances

Employers who carry out wrongful retaliation against an employee or individual may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Hiring of the complainant
  • Rehiring of the complainant.
  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Payment of compensation lost because of the retaliation.
  • Plus any other appropriate relief.

In addition, they may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000.

More New York Laws

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