When a whistleblower calls out their employer’s wrongdoing, they risk devastating consequences. Retaliation on the job can take many forms, from an increasingly hostile work environment to termination. However, if the whistleblower has taken the proper steps, New York law can protect them.
In New York, whistleblower protections only apply to people who have reported their employer for healthcare fraud or for taking actions that present a specific and substantial risk to public health. Make no mistake, this is a high bar to clear, but those who do meet the criteria are afforded protections for such activities as:
Refusing to engage in questionable activity
Your employer can’t compel you to break the law or engage in unethical activity, even if the questionable behavior is part of company policy. Employers may place significant pressure on you should you refuse, but cannot retaliate against you for refusing to commit a crime.
Participating in an investigation
Any claims made by a whistleblower should be thoroughly investigated. Investigators may ask to meet with you, even if you had nothing to do with the initial report. If you participate in the investigation, your employer cannot retaliate against you.
You may be asked to give testimony in court or as part of a deposition. You have a legal duty to participate if you receive a subpoena. The law recognizes this difficult position, and protects you from retaliation for giving testimony.
“A reasonable opportunity to correct”
Seeking whistleblower protections under New York law requires a number of steps, including allowing your employer “a reasonable opportunity to correct” the problem. But what is “a reasonable opportunity?” This and other questions can be difficult to navigate on your own.
If you tried to do the right thing at work and face retaliation because of it, or want to report your employer but are unsure of what steps to take to protect yourself from retaliation, speaking to an attorney familiar with New York employment laws can provide you with the answers you need.