In our previous article on whistleblowers in NY we mentioned that “If an employee is fired for reporting a violation of law which creates and presents a specific danger to public health or safety, or is fired for refusing to participate in such an activity, then the employer may be exposed to a claim for back pay, reinstatement and attorney’s fees by the whistle-blowing employee.”
There are two laws, in New York that protect the whistleblower from retaliatory action of their employers in New York. The first one is under New York Labor Law § 740 which protects, in general, an employee from being fired for reporting a violation of law or refusing to participate in such activity that violates the law which creates and presents a specific danger to public health and safety. And the second law is under New York Labor Law § 741 which protects health care employees from being fired for reporting or refusing to participate in activities he/she believes constitutes improper quality of patient care.
Expanded Whistleblower Protection
The Senate Bill S8397A signed into law by Gov. Cuomo in 2020 introduced revisions to New York Labor Law § 741. The amendments aimed to increase protections for whistleblowers who are voicing their concerns not only about the quality of care, but also about safety in their workplace. Below are some of the salient amendments to NY’s Labor Law:
|New York Labor Law § 741||Senate Bill S8397A|
|“(a) discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor, or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer or agent that the employee, in good faith, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care”||“(a) discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor, to a public body,TO A NEWS MEDIA OUTLET, OR TO A SOCIAL MEDIA FORUM AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AT LARGE an activity, policy or practice of the employer or agent that the employee, in good faith, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care or IMPROPER QUALITY OF WORKPLACE SAFETY”|
|No Definition in Law||Improper Quality of Workplace Safety means “any practice, action or failure to act of an employer which may present an unsafe workplace environment or significant threat to the health of employee”|
Many practicing NY lawyers and commentators have noted that this amendment to law shall assist in leading to a more transparent and accountable New York government. We have, already, seen disclosures to the media that may have not been made under the prior law.
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