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N.Y.: Legislature Passes Whistle-blower Protections

By Rita Zeidner  7/22/2014
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Many New York state workers who report waste, fraud and abuse will get new job protections if the governor signs a bill approved by the state Senate June 18. The New York Assembly voted for the measure in March.

The bill would protect employees of the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services from retaliation for reporting instances of abuse, neglect or maltreatment. It also would protect employees of organizations that are licensed, certified or funded by these agencies.

The bill’s sponsors say these workers need additional protections in light of reports direct care workers were fired, demoted or suffered some form of retaliation for their whistle-blowing.

Meanwhile the 2014 legislative session closed before the Assembly voted on a Senate-passed measure that would have extending sexual harassment protections to the majority of New Yorkers. Currently, people working at New York businesses with fewer than four employees — 60 percent of the state's private employers — cannot file a harassment complaint with the state because small employers are exempt from the law that prohibits harassment.  

The measure was part of a trilogy of measures making up the state Senate’s Women’s Equality Agenda. The other Senate-passed measures allowed for the recovery of attorney’s fees by victims of gender discrimination, and enabled domestic violence victims to obtain orders of protection electronically, thus eliminating the need to take time off from work to get such protections.

Rita Zeidner is a freelance business writer and former senior writer for HR Magazine.

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