Whistleblower Law Clarified by New York Court of Appeals

Whistleblower protection laws exist to help protect employees who report violations of law by their employers. The New York Court of Appeals recently broadened whistleblower protection in New York by removing the requirement that a whistleblower report the specific law, rule, or regulation that the employer allegedly violated at the initial stages of litigation. In Wendy Webb-Weber v. Community Action for Human Services, Inc., the court found that Ms. Webb-Weber could still file a whistleblowing claim despite the fact that she could not name the specific law her employer violated.

Webb-Weber was the COO of Community Action for Human Services, and was terminated after complaining to various public agencies about her employers dangerous practices. She alleged her employer falsified patient treatment records, mistreated residents, and had inadequate fire safety. The agency was investigated and warned to fix multiple issues. However, the agency did not fix the issues, and was sanctioned and fined. In response, Community Action terminated Webb-Weber.

Webb-Weber sued her employer for violating the whistleblower protection statute, and her employer tried to dismiss the claim as she had not identified the specific law or regulation her employer violated. The court stated that the initial pleading does not have to state the specific violation. This case increases the number of people who could file potential whistleblower claims, as it lowers the requirements for the initial pleading. At early stages of the claim, it is possible that a whistleblower might realize the employer has done something wrong, but not know the specific law violated. The New York Court of Appeals recognized the reality of complex legal policies, and ruled in favor of better protection for whistleblowers.

This case does not completely open the doors for any kind of whistleblowing claim. In order to win a whistleblower claim, the plaintiff must still prove an actual violation by the employer. The overall standard in New York is much stricter than the standard in other states, such as New Jersey, which only requires the plaintiff to show a reasonable belief that the employer was committing a violation.

Contact a NY Whistleblower Attorney

If you think you have a whistleblower case, you should contact an attorney right away. The law firm of John J. Zidziunas & Associates has a team of whistleblowing attorneys in New York ready to review your claim. For further information, call 973-509-8500, email info@jjzlawfirm.com, or visit http://employmentdiscrimination.com/.

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