The Law Firm of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Malherbe LLP

New York State Expands its Whistleblower Law Adding Extensive Protections for Whistleblowers

Like many states, New York has its own Whistleblower Law designed to help protect employees from any type of retaliation or damages due to them blowing the whistle on any misconduct, corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, gross mismanagement, and abuse of authority. In order to guarantee the effectiveness of this law, it has been amended multiple times, each time making sure that any protections or requirements to the whistleblowers are effective enough to incentivize whistleblowers to speak out and to be protected for doing so.  

The most recent amendment was just a few months ago, in the beginning of 2022. It was the biggest update to the law in decades. Not only are many of the protections offered by the law expanded, but they also added amazing new aspects that addressed many of issues the previous version had. For example, previously it was required to report any illegal/fraudulent activity to a superior or their employer. This in many cases, made it so that the whistleblower would face different types of retaliation before even being able to report it to the State and to corresponding authorities. Now, this requirement has been made so flexible that for all intents and purposes, it is not necessary to report information first to a supervisor or employer. A whistleblower can report their information immediately to NY State. 

Another big aspect of this is the implementation of new guidelines requiring employers with a certain number of employees, to review and update their own whistleblower protocols to make sure, among other things, that the employer’s reporting procedure be handled by a person with no power to retaliate against the whistleblower. An employer’s process should provide for the process to be completely confidential and to post notice of the law in the workplace. The new law also, most importantly, expanded the definition of retaliation to make sure that most, if not all, possible scenarios of retaliation are covered under the law. It’s definitively a giant step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing how the implementation of this expansion will unfold. 

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