New York State Significantly Expands Protections for Private Sector Employee Whistleblowers



Updated February 27, 2022

Effective January 26, 2022, New York will significantly expand protections for private sector employee whistleblowers. Section 740 of the New York Labor Law has been amended to prohibit private sector employers from retaliating against employees, former employees, and independent contractors who disclose or threaten to disclose to a supervisor or public body, any conduct they reasonably believe violates any law, rule or regulation, executive order, or any judicial or administrative order or that they reasonably believe constitutes a substantial and specific danger to public safety.

Previously, the whistleblower protections were fairly narrow and prohibited retaliation against an employee who complained of a practice that constituted a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety.

In the past, the employee also had to bring the potentially problematic activity to the attention of the employer. The employer would then have a reasonable opportunity to cure the problem. Effective January 26, the individual will only need to make a good faith effort to notify the employer by bringing the activity to its attention. However, that notification requirement is eliminated if:

  • there is an imminent and serious danger to the public health or safety;
  • the individual reasonably believes that reporting to the supervisor would result in a destruction of evidence or other concealment of the activity, policy or practice;
  • such activity, policy or practice could reasonably be expected to lead to endangering the welfare of a minor;
  • the individual reasonably believes that reporting to the supervisor would result in physical harm to the individual or any other person; or
  • the individual reasonably believes that the supervisor is already aware of the activity, policy or practice and will not correct such activity, policy or practice.

What Should Nonprofit Employers Do Now?

  • Review any current whistleblower policies to ensure that they comply with the amended law;
  • Train managers on the amended law to ensure that they know how to respond to any employee complaints;
  • Consider implementing policies that would encourage employees to bring forth concerns so the employer can attempt to address them internally;
  • Notify employees of amended law via posting requirement. Employers will be required to post a notice regarding the amended law in a conspicuous place in their workplace. The NY Department of Labor posted a model notice, available via clicking here.

Questions?

Please contact the White Plains Office of Pro Bono Partnership at 914-328-0674 if you have questions.

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