HR Alert: New Law Expanding Employee Protection from Retaliation Takes Effect Today

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  • HR Alert: New Law Expanding Employee Protection from Retaliation Takes Effect Today
Labor Law § 740, commonly referred to as New York’s Whistleblower Law, historically has provided protection to employees who report their employer’s unsafe practices. Generally, employers are prohibited from taking retaliatory action, such as termination, against employees who disclose employer practices that are in violation of law to a supervisor or public body.
The Legislature has amended Labor Law §§ 740 and 741 with the effect of significantly broadening the rights of employees and duties of employers, effective on January 26, 2022.
The key takeaways you need to know:
  • In addition to employees, the amended law permits former employees and independent contractors to file a whistleblower claim against the employer;
  • The types of violations on which employees can report include federal, state, and local laws, executive orders, and judicial or administrative decisions, rulings, and orders;
  • Retaliation has been expanded to include adverse employment actions or threats to discharge, suspend, demote, alter the terms or conditions of employment, affect a former employee’s current or future employment, or contacting United States immigration authorities regarding the employee’s citizenship status;
  • The employer’s conduct no longer needs to be an actual violation of the law, but the employee only must “reasonably believe” the conduct violates a law;
  • The employee no longer must notify the employer of the violation before reporting to the public body — the employee must only make a “good faith” effort to notify the employer;
  • The employee does not even need to try to notify the employer if the conduct is an imminent or serious danger to public health or safety, the employee reasonably believes reporting the conduct would result in destruction of evidence, the conduct may endanger the welfare of a minor, the employee fears physical harm if (s)he reports the conduct, or if the employee reasonably believes the supervisor is already aware of the conduct and will not correct it;
  • Remedies now include front pay as an alternative to reinstating the employee, a civil penalty of up to $10,000, and punitive damages; and
  • Employers must inform employees of their rights under this new law by posting a notice in a conspicuous, easily-accessible, and well-lighted area frequently seen by employees and applicants.
Contact The Coppola Firm if you have questions or concerns about these significant changes to the law.  We are always happy to advise employers about their obligations and best practices.
Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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