Recently, New York’s legislature amended New York’s notoriously narrow “whistleblower law,” N.Y. Labor Law 740. Governor Hochul signed the new law on October 28, 2021; they take effect 90 days thereafter (i.e., on January 26, 2022).
There are a number of changes to the statute, which include, but are not limited to:
- Broadening the definition of “employee” to include “former employees, or natural persons employed as independent contractors to carry out work in furtherance of an employer’s business enterprise who are not themselves employers”;
- Broadening the definition of “retaliatory action” to encompass, inter alia, adverse actions taken by an employer or their agent to “discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee or former employee exercising his or her rights under this section”;
- Broadening the “prohibitions” section to state that an employee need only have a “reasonable belief” that the complained-of activity, policy or practice violates a law, rule or regulation;
- Providing for an award of punitive damages; and
- Requiring employers to inform their employees of their rights under the statute.
These amendments are a step in the right direction, and ensure Labor Law 740’s inclusion in the workers’ rights attorney’s arsenal.