In a recent blog post, we covered a few of the most critical aspects of New York’s whistleblower laws. And one of the most critical things to remember about these laws is that they exist primarily to protect whistleblowers against retaliation when they engage in a protected activity.
Of course, blowing the whistle is one of those activities. However, there are a few more outlined in our laws. And it is important that all whistleblowers know what legal protections they have.
Reporting is not the only protected activity
Reporting legal violations is a protected activity. Most employees and whistleblowers know this. However, this is, by far, not the only action protected by our state laws.
New York whistleblower laws also protect other whistleblower actions. Under these laws, employees can:
- Refuse to participate in any illegal or unethical activities in the workplace, even if it is company policy. Employers who regularly violate the law might expect their employees to do the same. They might even make employees sign strict–and often unfair–non-disclosure agreements to keep them from reporting the activity they know is illegal.
- Participate in a whistleblower investigation, even if an employee did not file the initial report, the law protects them against retaliation if they cooperate with investigators or offer additional information to the claim.
- Testify in court about the whistleblower claim. Employees might have a legal obligation to testify, especially if they receive a subpoena. However, that does not detract from their protections against retaliation.
In protecting these actions, our laws ensure that whistleblowers receive protection throughout the entire process of blowing the whistle. That is why whistleblowers must understand all of the rights they have and what actions are protected by law.
Engaged in these activities? Then retaliation is illegal.
Our state laws clearly protect whistleblowers who engage in these activities from any adverse actions. Therefore, employers or other company officials cannot:
- Wrongfully terminate or demote the employee
- Harass or discriminate against employees at work
- Blacklist employees within or outside the company
Retaliation is illegal in most circumstances. However, that means it is even more important for whistleblowers to understand the rights they have. This can help them recognize retaliation and prove it when they file a claim.