On October 28, Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) signed a bill that grants whistleblower protections to employees. Assembly Bill A5144A “specifically enhances protection for private sector employees who were less protected prior to this bill’s enactment,” according to the press release.
The bill expands the definition of “employee” to “include former employees” — this inclusion thus extends anti-retaliation protections to individuals who may have experienced retaliation after leaving their job. The bill also “widen[s] the definition of retaliatory action, which will now include actions or threats to take actions that would adversely impact a former employee’s current or future employment and contracting or threats to contact immigration authorities.”
Additionally, the press release states that the statute of limitations is now extended by two years “to ensure proper action can be taken in the case of retaliation.” According to the press release, “[e]mployees will be protected whether or not they were acting within the scope of their job duties.”
The bill “also ensures employees only have to prove that they reasonably believe there is a violation of the law or that there is substantial or specific danger – whereas before they needed to show that there was an actual violation of law that created and presented a substantial and specific danger to be protected from retaliation — expanding the type of whistleblowing that is protected.”
“If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that protecting workers must be part of our overall economic recovery efforts,” Governor Hochul said in the press release. “This legislation ensures that employees can speak out on dangerous or illegal business practices that endanger their health and wellbeing. No worker should have to endure poor working conditions, so I’m proud to further protect working New Yorkers by preventing workplace retaliation.”