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Modern Office

Understanding Whistleblower Protections and Incentives in New York

Navigating the workplace can be complicated, especially when you discover misconduct that challenges your ethics. If you're a New Yorker struggling with this predicament, Thompson & Skrabanek can help. 

There are two types of laws to help whistleblowers: protections and incentives.  Protections help prevent employees from losing their jobs or suffering other unjust consequences simply because they made the decision to report unlawful activity.  Incentives, on the other hand, actively reward whistleblowers by giving them a portion of the penalties that a company might pay the government for unlawful activities.  

Whistleblower Protections: 

 

Whistleblower protection laws are intended to stop employers from doing things that could discourage or prevent employees from reporting unlawful activity. The most common type of whistleblower protections are so-called 'anti-retaliation' provisions.  Retaliation occurs when an employer discovers that an employee has reported misconduct within the company and takes action to punish or silence that employee.  The most common type of retaliation is firing, but a variety of other actions could constitute retaliation, such as demotion, re-assignment, or a reduction in pay or hours.

In New York, there are a wide variety of whistleblower protections under state and federal law.  If you have reported or wish to report any of the following types of misconduct at your workplace, you may be entitled to whistleblower protections:

  • Workplace safety violations

  • Misconduct in the financial sector

  • Situations affecting public health or safety in healthcare workplaces

  • Tax fraud 

  • False or fraudulent claims for payment from the government (including COVID-19 relief and economic recovery payments)

  • Discrimination

  • Certain violations of environmental laws and regulations

If you reported any of these things and lost your job for it (or suffered some similar unjust consequence), you may be entitled to significant compensation.  Set up a free consultation with a member of our team to discuss your situation. 

If you are considering making a whistleblowers report but are not sure of how to proceed, you should also speak with an attorney to make sure you properly understand your rights before you attempt to navigate the complexities of whistleblowing.

 

Whistleblower Incentives

Whistleblower incentives are more rare and limited in scope that whistleblower protections.  There are only a few scenarios where you can get a financial reward for reporting misconduct by your employer.  Here is a brief summary of these scenarios:

Whistleblower Reward for Reporting False Claims to the Government

If you discovered that your employer has substantially defrauded the state or federal government, you could recover between 15% and 30% of the recovery or penalties that result from your report.  This is done under a law called the False Claims Act, which applies to the federal government, or a similar law called the New York False Claims Act, which applies to the state government (or local governments).  

Whistleblower Reward for Reporting Tax Fraud

Both the IRS and New York State have a process for rewarding citizens who report tax fraud.  The IRS maintains it's own internal whistleblower program through which you could be paid between 15% and 30% of the additional tax, penalty, and other amounts recovered as a result of your report.  And New Yorkers can recover a similar reward through litigation under something called the New York False Claims Act.  

Whistleblower Reward for Reporting Bribery of Foreign Officials:

The federal government actively recruits whistleblowers who become aware that U.S.-listed companies are engaged in bribing or similar corrupt activities with officials of foreign nations.  This is provided for by a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  As recently as 2023, a whistleblower (whose identity remains protected/confidential) was paid  $279 million for reporting bribery that led to a financial penalty for foreign corrupt practices by their U.S. employer.

 

If you think you may be in a position to provide material information to the government in exchange for a whistleblower award, you should consult with an attorney to discuss pursuing the claim.  Working with an attorney can help you determine whether your whistleblowing activities will entitle you to an award, and to ensure that you receive that award

Set up a consultation here or call us at (646) 568-4280

Disclaimer

 

The content presented on this website, including this article, is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional legal advice. The opinions expressed herein are those of Thompson & Skrabanek and are provided "as is" without any warranty, express or implied.  While we strive to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date, laws and regulations can change, and each legal situation is unique. Therefore, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel tailored to your individual circumstances.

 

We strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified attorney for advice concerning your specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by your use of this website or by relying upon the content provided.

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