New provisions meant to expand protections for private sector workers who could face retaliatory actions for reporting illegal or dangerous practices was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The measure is meant to strengthen existing protections by expanding definitions to include former workers by protecing those who could face retaliation after leaving their jobs.
The new law also expands the definition of what is considered a retaliatory action to include actions or threats that could affect a person's future or current employment. The measure also includes provisions barring former employers from threatening to conact immigration authorities.
Independent contractors, too, would also be granted protections.
"If we've learned anything from the pandemic, it's that protecting workers must be part of our overall economic recovery efforts," Hochul said. "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."
Workers would have protections regardless of whether they were acting within the scope of their job, and employees would have to only prove they reasonably believe there is a violation of the law or a substantial or specific danger, broadening whistleblower protections in the process.
"When a worker comes forward to raise the alarm on dangerous or unlawful conditions in their workplace, they should have the security to know that taking that courageous step will not come back to haunt them," said Sen. Jessica Ramos."The importance of this bill has been emphasized by workers' experiences during the height of the pandemic, as well as in the face of a troubling national trend of efforts to misclassify workers. By signing this bill, Governor Hochul is taking a significant step to signal to workers that we have their backs, and their health, dignity, and safety at work are of paramount importance."