New York Whistleblower Lawyers Share Important Information About Whistleblower Claims

New York whistleblower lawyers see a rising number of employment law cases that stem from employers unlawfully firing or otherwise retaliating against employees. Whistleblower is the name given to an employee who reports the unlawful or discriminatory behavior of an employer. Many laws prohibit an employer from retaliating against a whistleblower.

Various statutes have whistleblower protections built into them. For example, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee based on race, sex, religion, creed, national origin and disability. The same Act prohibits retaliation against an employee who internally reports discrimination, refuses to participate in discrimination or files a discrimination claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) or New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR). Other whistleblower protections come from specific statutes making retaliation illegal. Congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley, for instance, for the particular purpose of making it unlawful to retaliate against an employee who “blows the whistle” on securities fraud. The False Claims Act makes it unlawful to retaliate against a worker who reports or refuses to participate in fraud against the government, such as filing false Medicare claims.

It is Imperative to Protect the Rights of Employee Whistleblowers

Protecting whistleblowers is important as it encourages employees to report fraudulent, discriminatory and unlawful behavior by their employers without fear of repercussions. Anti-retaliation laws also help employees resist succumbing to pressure to engage in illegal activities themselves. Employees should know that there is recourse when employers violate whistleblower protection laws.

New York whistleblower lawyers at Leeds Brown have years of experience representing whistleblowers against employers who have taken unlawful retaliatory action against them. If you reported unlawful activity, safety violations or other wrongdoing and were fired, demoted, reassigned or otherwise punished by your employer, contact our office for a free consultation. You may be entitled to receive monetary damages and reinstatement.

Every case involving retaliation is different, but the New York whistleblower lawyers at Leeds Brown receive many general inquiries that are similar in nature. Below, we share some of these questions and the answers. Please contact our office at 1-800-585-4658 with additional questions you may have and to discuss your matter in confidence.

What law covers my retaliation the case?

The correct law is the first issue to determine before figuring out how to proceed with a New York whistleblower case. Your case may fall under federal or state law and fall under a variety of applicable retaliation laws. Generally, any law that promotes workplace safety, anti-fraud and corruption, wage and hours and anti-discrimination also has an anti-retaliation provision.

Tort or Contract law may also provide you with remedies for damages that were caused by retaliation. An attorney can assist you with understanding the different laws and possibilities and help you to formulate a plan to protect your rights.

A few examples of Federal Statutes that provide whistleblower protection:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • Solid Waste Disposal Act

New York State has laws that protect whistleblowers as well. New York Labor Law makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who makes a complaint, starts a proceeding or testifies at a proceeding about the violation of New York’s labor laws. New York also prohibits retaliation for disclosing, providing information about or refusing to participate in an illegal policy or practice that presents a substantial danger to public health and safety. There are other protections from retaliation under NY executive laws, social services laws and education laws, among others.

Is there a time limit on filing a claim for retaliation because of whistleblowing?

All cases have a time limit called a statute of limitations. The length of time varies from state to state and from statute to statute. So does the date on which the time limit begins. For example, the statute of limitations may begin running the final day of employment or the day the employee learns of the termination. Federal whistleblower protection laws have various statutes of limitations, and some are quite short. By speaking with an attorney sooner rather than later, you can learn whether there is time to file a retaliation claim.

What must I show to have a valid whistleblower claim?

Generally, you must show four things:

  1. That you were engaged in a protected activity. For example, you were reporting workplace discrimination or an OSHA violation
  2. That your employer knew or believed you to be a whistleblower
  3. That your employer caused you harm – for example, fired, demoted, reassigned, financially punished or constructively discharged you (forced you to quit)
  4. Your whistleblowing, or protected activity, resulted in the harm

How does an employee prove causation?

Proving that whistleblowing was the reason for the retaliation can be complicated because every case has unique circumstances. It is not often that causation is crystal clear. An employee is not likely to say “I’m firing you because you reported my unlawful behavior.”

To prove causation absent direct evidence you must look at factors such as:

  • the timing of the negative action
  • past behavior and relationship with the employer
  • past employment reviews and other positive or negative items in you file or record
  • past patterns
  • treatment of other employees
  • procedures followed
  • nature of the protected conduct
  • nature of the investigation into the employee’s charge
  • the magnitude of the alleged offense

After you filed a complaint, did your boss suddenly treat you differently? Did she exclude you from meetings or give you impossible tasks? Do you have a history of excellent performance but are now suddenly receiving poor reports? If so, your boss may be unlawfully retaliating against you for exercising a protected right.

Contact Us

These are just a few of the many questions New York whistleblower’s rights attorneys at Leeds Brown hear. If you have additional questions, please contact our office and speak with one of our lawyers.

We have extensive experience handling all types of retaliation claims under federal and New York state laws. If you reported illegal or discriminatory behavior by your employer and experienced negative workplace consequences, you may have a case and be entitled to monetary damages.

Retaliation can take many forms. You may be discharged, demoted, or have your work assignments changed. You may not get that bonus you were promised or be allowed to attend an important training session.

If this sounds familiar to you, speak with New York whistleblowers rights attorneys today and protect yourself. Someone is here to take your call 24/7. Retaliation is unlawful. Hold your employer accountable by calling 1-800-585-4658.