Over the next several weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of articles responding to frequently asked questions concerning whistleblower laws in New York.
What laws protect New York whistleblowers?
There are several New York State and federal laws that protect various types of whistleblowing. New York has a general whistleblower protection statute under New York Labor Law Section 740, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees or independent contractors who disclose or threaten to disclose to their supervisors violations of the law or other activities that the whistleblower reasonably believes pose a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.
New York State also has several statutes that protect employees who blow the whistle on certain types of misconduct, or who work in certain industries. For example, the New York State False Claims Act prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who report fraud against the government, or who report underpayment of New York State taxes. New York also has a specific whistleblower statute that protects certain health care employees who, in good faith, disclose conduct that they reasonably believe constitutes improper quality of patient care or improper quality of workplace safety.
New York whistleblowers may also be covered under Federal laws that protect whistleblowers who engage in certain protected conduct, depending on their industry.
What rewards are available to New York whistleblowers?
New York whistleblowers may be eligible for an award if they report their concerns to the state or federal government. The amount of the award varies depending on the program, the whistleblower’s specific information, the recovery by the government, and more, but in general, each program has a range of awards for successful whistleblowers:
- The New York False Claims Act and the Federal False Claims Act provide for whistleblower rewards of 15-30% of the amount recovered based on a whistleblower’s qui tam lawsuit.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower program provides for whistleblower rewards of 10-30% of the amount recovered based on a whistleblower’s original information.
- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission whistleblower program provides for whistleblower rewards of 10-30% of the amount recovered based on a whistleblower’s original information.
- The Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Program provides for whistleblower rewards of 10-30% of the amount recovered based on a whistleblower’s original information..
- The IRS Whistleblower Program provides for between 15-30% of the tax collected by the government that resulted from the whistleblower’s reporting.
Can my employer retaliate against me for blowing the whistle?
New York State whistleblowers who disclose or threaten to disclose to their supervisors violations of the law or other activities that the whistleblower reasonably believes pose a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or who blow the whistle on fraud against the government, securities fraud, commodities fraud, money-laundering violations, and more are legally protected against retaliation. However, while many statutes prohibit employers from retaliating against whistleblowers who make certain types of reports internally, in reality many whistleblowers who raise concerns to their supervisors or to others at their company often face retaliation. Whistleblowers who experience retaliation may have legal claims against their employers or former employers.
No matter where you are in the whistleblowing process, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney to advise you on how to balance protecting yourself against retaliation and raising reasonable concerns about misconduct. If you’re thinking about blowing the whistle, an attorney can navigate the process. An attorney may also be able to advise you whether the misconduct you’ve identified is something that might be eligible for an award under the New York False Claims Act, the Federal False Claims Act, the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Programs, the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Program, the IRS Whistleblower Program, or other reward programs. If you’ve already blown the whistle and have suffered retaliation, an attorney may be able to help you understand your rights and ability to recover under various whistleblower protection laws.