Whistleblower Protections Begin to Take Center Stage

Employment and Labor Law Tip of the Month

As “whistleblower” issues pervade national headlines, lawmakers in some jurisdictions, including New York, have recently sought to expand existing whistleblower protections. The New York Labor Law, for example, currently prohibits employers from taking retaliatory actions against employees who disclose a violation of law “that creates a substantial danger to the public health or safety, or . . . constitutes healthcare fraud[.]” Earlier this year, however, a bill was introduced that would greatly expand the reach of this law. The proposed legislation would extend whistleblower protections to any employee who reports information about any “illegal business activity,” not just wrongdoing creating a threat to public health or safety. This surge in whistleblower popularity should be met proactively and attentively by employers. Among other measures, employers should ensure that their whistleblower policies are up-to-date and compliant with federal law and the laws of the states in which they conduct business, and that formal procedures are established for addressing employee reports of unlawful activity.

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