Governor Kathy Hochul has signed legislation (Senate Bill 4934A) that expands protections for whistleblowers. Senate Bill 4934A takes effect on Jan. 26, 2022.
New York Labor Law Section 740 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who disclose, or threaten to disclose, an actual violation of a law that poses a substantial and specific danger to the public's health or safety.
Senate Bill 4934A:
The amendment extends whistleblower protections in numerous ways:
Expanded worker coverage:
Senate Bill 4934A extends Section 740's whistleblower protections to include not only current employees, but also former employees and independent contractors.
Protected activity expanded :
The new law expands the scope of activity protected so that an employee can now report not only actual violations impacting public health and safety, but also any activity, practice or policy that the employee reasonably believes violates any law, order, ruling or decision, regardless of the subject matter. Employees are also now protected whether or not they were acting within the scope of their job duties.
In addition, under certain circumstances, employees may report alleged violations directly to a public body bypassing their employer when the employee reasonably believes that a supervisor is aware and won't correct the alleged violation or would conceal or destroy evidence.
Expanded prohibited retaliatory action:
Senate Bill 4934A expands prohibited retaliatory action to include adversely impacting a former employee's current or future employment, including contacting immigration authorities or reporting the immigration status of employees or their family members. Previously, retaliatory action was limited to discharge, suspension, demotion or adversely impacting terms and conditions of employment.
Extended time to bring a claim:
The new law extends the statute of limitations for filing a claim from one to two years.
Employers must post a notice of the protections, rights, and obligations of employees in a conspicuous, easily accessible, and well-lit place customarily visited by employees and job applicants.
The amendment provides for additional penalties against employers found to have violated the law.
New York employers should post the required notice and review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with Senate Bill 4934A. Employers should also train supervisors on how to respond to reports of potential violations. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.