Labor Law Section 740 is most commonly referred to as New York’s Whistleblower Law. New York State recently amended its Whistleblower Law to further protect employees from retaliation and make it easier to file claims against employers.
The New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued a “Notice of Employee Rights, Protections, and Obligations Under Labor Law Section 740” (“Notice”) that addresses “Prohibited Retaliatory Personnel Action by Employers”, effective January 26, 2022. The Notice can be found here: DOL Notice.
What are the Amendments to New York’s Whistleblower Law?
Labor Law Section 740 states that, “An employer shall not take any retaliatory action against an employee, whether or not within the scope of the employee’s job duties, because such employee does any of the following:
(a) discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of law, rule or regulation or that the employee reasonably believes poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety;
(b) provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any such activity, policy or practice by such employer; or
(c) objects to, or refuses to participate in any such activity, policy or practice.”
The term reasonably believes is a new addition to Section 740. Prior to the recent amendments, employees had to prove that the employer violated the statute. The term “reasonably believes” is much easier to prove, which means the amendments to the law are more favorable to employees.
What is the Definition for Retaliatory Action?
Retaliatory action means an adverse action taken by an employer or his or her agent to discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee or former employee exercising his or her rights under this section, including:
- adverse employment actions or threats to take such adverse employment actions against an employee in the terms of conditions of employment including but not limited to discharge, suspension, or demotion;
- actions or threats to take such actions that would adversely impact a former employee’s current or future employment; or
- threatening to contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise reporting or threatening to report an employee’s suspected citizenship or immigration status or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee’s family or household member, as defined in Section 459(a)(2) of the social services law, to a federal, state, or local agency. See, DOL Notice
Other Important Changes to the Whistleblower Law
- The statute of limitations is now two (2) years instead of one (1) year.
- There is no longer a requirement that the employee provide notice to the employer.
- Employees who file a claim for retaliation under the amended statute may now request a jury trial, seek injunctive relief, reinstatement to their previous job, compensation for lost wages and benefits, civil penalties up to $10,000 dollars, and even compensation for emotional distress.
Is there a Notice Requirement for Employers?
Yes… businesses with one or more employees must inform employees of their protections and rights under Section 740 and post the model notice in an area that is easily seen by employees.
Employers may want to consult with an attorney to verify that proper whistleblower policies and practices are in place. Employers may also want to provide new training to management since the new amendments favor employees and make it so much easier to file a claim.
This article is intended for general information and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. No attorney-client relationship is created by the distribution of this article. The substance of this article is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2022 Law Office of Regina Sarkis, PLLC.