Whistleblower Protection Claims Lawyer in New York

New York City Attorneys Advancing the Rights of Employees

You can get whistleblower protection under several different laws, including the Dodd-Frank Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the False Claims Act. Sometimes you may have a claim under more than one law. Depending on the circumstances, you may have different remedies through the SEC bounty program or the CFTC bounty program. If you are concerned about disclosing apparent wrongdoing by a New York employer, the New York City whistleblower lawyers at Phillips & Associates may be able to help.

Protection for Whistleblowers Disclosing Employer Misconduct

Employees who blow the whistle on their employers' wrongdoing may have protection, depending on the laws that potentially apply. The goal of these laws is to encourage employees to stop, report, or testify about illegal acts by employers, such as violations of securities regulations or making false claims.

Each law defines which whistleblower activity is protected, and to what extent. For example, Sarbanes-Oxley may protect your whistleblowing if you work for a publicly traded company, and you provide information to the SEC and certain other authorities about SEC regulatory violations or federal law violations that constitute fraud against corporate shareholders. For another example, under the False Claims Act, you may be able to file a sealed and initially confidential qui tam action under the False Claims Act if you have evidence that your employer is committing fraud against federal programs or contracts. It can be important to consult a whistleblower attorney in New York City to make sure that you comply with the legal requirements when filing a report.

Taking Action Against Retaliation

Often, these laws prohibit employer retaliation against whistleblowers, and you may have the right to sue if your employer retaliates against you in violation of the law. In many instances, there is a brief window of time within which to pursue a retaliation claim, so it is important to consult an attorney as soon as you believe that you are being subjected to retaliation. It can be a good idea to consult an attorney even before providing information to a governmental authority.

Most whistleblower claims require you to show that you are an employee or person otherwise covered by the whistleblower statute on which you are relying, the defendant is an employer or person who is covered under the whistleblower statute, you engaged in protected activity as a whistleblower, the defendant knew or had knowledge that you engaged in whistleblowing, the defendant retaliated against you at least partly because you engaged in protected activity, and you were terminated or adversely treated with regard to a term or condition of employment.

Your New York City whistleblower attorney may be able to show that the discharge or other adverse action constituted retaliation based on evidence such as the employer's hostile approach to your protected activity, its knowledge of your protected activity, the nature of your protected activity, prior good performance reports, the timing of the discharge or threats, and retaliation against other employees who acted similarly. One of the strongest signs of retaliation is if you had very good performance reports before engaging in the protected activity but received poor performance reports afterward.

Timing is also critical. If you were fired shortly after your employer learned that you reported a securities violation to the SEC under Dodd-Frank, this may be retaliation. Similarly, if you provide a tip about a pump and dump scheme to the CFTC or a securities violation to the SEC, so your employer comes under investigation for it and learns that you gave the tip, and then you are terminated, this may be retaliation.

Contact a Knowledgeable Whistleblower Lawyer in New York City

It is important to retain an experienced attorney if you are planning to report your employer to the authorities. If you are concerned about a whistleblower protection claim in a New York workplace, you should consult an employment litigator. Contact Phillips & Associates at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle employment litigation in the boroughs of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan; the counties of Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk; as well as New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

New York City Lawyers for Whistleblowers Reporting Violations of COVID Protocols

In October of 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed amendments to the whistleblower law that expand protections. Whistleblower complaints have skyrocketed due to COVID-19 and the Delta and Omicron variants. The amendments take account of these recent changes to public health and safety. Among other things, the new provisions protect you from retaliation when you are an employee who reports your employer’s dangerous business activities or operations when they violate COVID protocols. If you believe your employer has retaliated or is going to retaliate against you because you have reported their breach or COVID protocols or are planning to do so, call the New York City whistleblower attorneys of Phillips & Associates. With a track record of success and many wins on behalf of workers against businesses of all sizes, we are well-positioned to represent clients in every industry.

COVID Protocols

The expansion of whistleblower protection is important for employees who report violations of COVID protocols. In the past, Labor Law section 740 only protected you from retaliation if you complained about an actual legal violation and it posed a substantial and particular danger to public health and safety. Additionally, employees needed to provide a reasonable chance to correct a violation before they reported misconduct to an investigative agency. This meant, for example, a restaurant server who voiced on social media a general complaint about an employer’s failure to enforce the requirement that diners and servers show proof of vaccination or mask up would not necessarily have had protection against retaliation prior to the amendments.

Furthermore, prior to the amendments, you had to give your employer a chance to correct a dangerous situation in order to receive protection. This made it more difficult to make the decision to report for those workers who noticed COVID protocol violations in their workplaces. The amendments recognize that COVID is highly contagious and more expedient reporting could be important to prevent the spread of COVID.

Under the amendment, it is enough to have a reasonable belief that your employer has violated COVID protocols. The violation you report doesn’t need to be a law, regulation, rule that is set out in advance and you are not penalized if you, in good faith, misapprehended how the law applies to the facts. You have protection against retaliation so long as the violation of protocol presented a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety, even when the court finds it was not an actual legal violation, so long as your belief was reasonable. This expansion of what employees are protected from is especially critical during COVID when scientific knowledge and the rules intended to address them shift quickly in a short span of time. A layperson should not be expected to understand precisely how the court will interpret changing laws, rules, and regulations related to COVID protocols, but instead may need to act quickly.

Who Is Protected?

The amendments expand who is protected from retaliation, as well. Our New York City whistleblower attorneys may be able to seek protect on your behalf even if you are reporting your former employer’s COVID protocol violation or if you are an independent contractor reporting a company’s violation. You are protected against retaliation even if you are not the whistleblower, but you give information about a COVID protocol violation to a public body that is investigating the protocol violation. You also have protection if you refuse to participate in a protocol violation. For example, you should be protected from retaliation if your employer doesn’t want workers to wear a mask because it’s not customer-friendly, but you refuse to come to work without wearing a mask.

What Constitutes Retaliation?

There has also been an expansion of what constitutes retaliation for purposes of seeking a remedy. Prior to the amendments, retaliation was defined in a more limited way as termination, suspension or demotion of an employee, or another adverse employment action taken in the terms and conditions of employment. However, the definition now includes any adverse action taken by an employer to terminate, penalize, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against you because you exercise your whistleblowing rights. It can include any action that adversely affects your current job, as well any a future job. So, for example, if a company tried to blackball you from the industry by sending messages to other prospective employers because you reported a COVID protocol violation, you would be as protected as if you were terminated or otherwise faced an adverse decision while working for the company as an employee. This brings the law in line with other protections against retaliation under New York City, New York State, and federal laws.

Hire Seasoned Employment Lawyers for Whistleblowers

If you were harmed by a COVID protocol violation, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer who stays at the forefront of employment law cases and understands the full scope and nuances of the laws that protect you as an employee. The seasoned New York City employment discrimination attorneys of Phillips & Associates may be able to help you. We fight for workers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County or Suffolk County. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.

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