Whistleblower laws protect employees who report harmful workplaces or health violations. They penalize employers who engage in retaliation or termination against employees who come forward with these reports.
Whether or not these reports go anywhere in New York courts is not a factor in these protections. As the U.S. Department of Labor reports, an Eastern District of New York court dismissed a company’s appeal to prevent the department’s lawsuit for damages under whistleblower law.
The right to raise concerns
The Occupational Safety and Health Act establishes a number of laws and programs protecting a whistleblower’s rights to raise concerns. According to the report, an employee raised a claim that their company risked exposure to illness. The courts later dismissed this claim.
The company suspended and then terminated this employee after.
Department officials pursued damages and the company rebutted the claim. The company believed that its actions did not violate OSHA because of the dismissal. However, courts ruled that these protections exist regardless of whether the claim proceeds to an investigation. Officials seek to avoid a chilling effect on other employees who wish to come forward.
It is unclear how much the damages are or how long the investigation may take.
Whistleblowing without retaliation
Employees should not need to fear for their livelihoods if they raise and report concerns about their company, even if the courts dismiss these concerns later. Retaliation as a result of reporting creates a hostile work environment that causes stress. Those worried about this behavior or those already facing it may wish to investigate their unique situation and their options.