While employed, you may witness instances of wrongdoing in the workplace or may be asked to engage in wrongdoing and may wonder whether there is anything you can do about it. You may ask yourself, “What is whistleblowing?” Under state and federal law, you have the right to inform the proper authorities of potential violations in the workplace.
Many federal and state laws have been enacted to protect an employee who has decided to report wrongdoing to the proper authorities and the applicable law generally depends on the type of wrongdoing the employer has engaged in. Three such laws are:
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
The Dodd-Frank Act provides financial incentives to employees who voluntarily report employer wrongdoing to the SEC. The Act does not require employees to follow internal reporting policies and prevents an employer from retaliating against an employee who has reported wrongdoings to the proper authorities.
Under Sarbanes-Oxley, an employee engages in a protected activity when the employee reports suspected violations of federal mail, wire, bank or securities fraud, federal law relating to fraud against shareholders, or any regulation of the SEC. The Act makes it a crime to knowingly retaliate against a whistleblower for disclosing truthful information to the proper authorities.
New York Labor Law
Under New York Labor Law § 740, an employer may not discharge, suspend, demote or take any other adverse employment action against an employee who discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or the proper authorities or testifies before any public body regarding any activity of the employer that is in violation of law. Furthermore, an employer may not take an adverse employment action against any employee who refuses to participate in any unlawful activity of the employer. Labor Law § 740 applies to both public and private employees. However, in order to be entitled to the protections of the code, an employee must first report any supposed violation to a supervisor to grant the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the violation.
If you are contemplating reporting an employer violation to the proper authorities, you should contact the New York whistleblower attorneys at Fitapelli & Schaffer for consultation regarding the proper procedures to follow and to determine whether your employer’s conduct actually violates the law. If your employer has taken an adverse employment action against you after you exercised your Federal or New York whistleblower rights, your employer may have violated whistleblower laws. If your employer is liable for violating whistleblower laws, you may be entitled to an injunction, reinstatement, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, attorneys’ fees, other penalties and lost wages.
As federal whistleblower laws are covered by multiple federal statutes, we advise you to contact the whistleblower lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer for consultation regarding your decision to report wrongdoing. Our lawyers will be able to assist you in determining a proper course of action and can file a suit on your behalf if your employer has already retaliated against you.