Thanks to recent changes in New York law, employers should be more interested in whistleblower protections. This blog discussed the changes in a recent post. This post will go over more details.
Expanding what constitutes whistleblowing
New York Labor Law Section 740 is our state’s whistleblower law for private employees. Prior to the new updates, only those dangers to the public safety or public health could give an employee whistleblower status, if they were reported. Now, the law has been expanded to cover just about any illegal activity, regardless of its affect on the public safety or health. This means whistleblowing could include tax evasion, sexual harassment, theft, etc. And, this includes breaking any law, rule or regulation, including judicial or administrative decisions.
Expanded view of employee
The law also expands who is allowed to get whistleblower status. It now includes current and former employees, along with independent contractors. It also provides protection for employees regardless of how the information is discovered as it does not have to relate to their normal scope of duties.
Proof no longer required
Another haven for employers has been eliminated, the proof requirement. Prior to the changes, for a whistleblower to qualify for status, they needed actual proof. Now, they simply must prove a reasonable belief that such an illegal action occurred. This brings private employees into the same evidence requirement as that of public employees.
A top-down analysis
For our Terrytown, New York, employer readers, the takeaway from this new law is that they should do a top-down analysis of their entire operation to ensure they are in full compliance with all laws. This may mean bringing in experts or lawyers to be sure, but the cost of a whistleblower lawsuit could be substantially more.