The language used to write state and federal laws can often be complex and confusing. This can be incredibly stressful when an individual is considering blowing the whistle on illegal or unethical practices in their workplace and must understand the rights and protections they have.
Therefore, here is a brief overview of some of the essential aspects of New York’s whistleblower laws.
In order to make a retaliation claim, employees must report to their supervisors before blowing the whistle
New York law states that employees must complete two steps before blowing the whistle to a public entity:
- Employees must report any concerns they have to their supervisor first.
- Employees must also give their employer a reasonable amount of time to manage or correct the situation that caused the employee’s concerns.
The law provides a few exceptions to this process for healthcare employees. For example, if there is a valid and imminent risk to public health or someone’s medical care, healthcare employees can report their concerns to a public entity. However, it might be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney before moving forward outside the regular process.
However, if employees do not follow these two steps, they could put their rights to obtain whistleblower protections at risk.
Retaliation claims might not be viable if employees disregard these steps
When whistleblowers report their concerns through the proper legal process, the law protects them against retaliation. However, if employees skip the two steps listed above, they might not be able to take legal action against employer retaliation.
Whistleblowers must understand the laws that protect them, so they can plan how to move forward when reporting their concerns.
New York law also allows whistleblowers to report tax fraud
Whistleblowers in New York also have some abilities that even federal laws do not offer. One of those unique abilities is the right to report tax fraud under the New York False Claims Act. Under this state law, New Yorkers can report individuals who violate the law and attempt to defraud the government, as long as:
- The individual committing fraud collected an income exceeding $1 million as a result of the fraud or caused damages adding up to more than $350,000.
- The whistleblower has a “reasonable indication” that their claims are valid.
It is critical to know the differences between federal and state whistleblower laws—such as this one. Different laws afford individuals different rights and protections, which can make a significant difference in how they proceed with their claim.