Many employees are scared to report issues in the workplace, such as discrimination, harassment, wage and hour disputes, and safety violations. Why? Because they are afraid of getting fired.
As sad as it may seem, making a complaint about the workplace can cause an employer to fire an individual in an effort to silence them and others. However, this action is against the law. Whistleblowing, or reporting violations in the workplace, is not illegal. However, workplace retaliation is illegal. If an employee is fired or faces punishment for whistleblowing, that employee can file a claim against the employer.
What the Law Says
New York has statutory protections in place to protect workers from workplace retaliation. Under New York Labor Law § 215, an employee cannot face discrimination or discharge for making a complaint in regards to violation of labor laws.
New York Executive Law § 296(1)(e) prohibits workplace retaliation when an employee files a complaint in regards to discrimination. Discrimination is prohibited under state law, and covers classes, such as age, race, sex, disability, marital status, national origin and sexual orientation.
There are other laws in place to protect workers in various industries.
Filing a Claim
While the law prohibits retaliatory actions, many employees are fired or punished for their actions. If this has happened to you, you can file a claim against your employer. To file a retaliation claim in New York, a person must do so within three years from the date of the action.
A claim must be filed with the New York Department of Labor. The commissioner will review the claim and fine the employer if the action is deemed illegal. If you plan to file the claim in court, you have just two years to file a lawsuit. One of the requirements is that you must serve notice to the attorney general before filing the lawsuit.
If you were retaliated against for making a complaint about a safety violation, you may be protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The time frames are very short, however, and range from 30 to 180 days, so time is of the essence. You can file a claim online, over the phone, in person, or via fax, mail or email.
If you plan to file any type of retaliation claim, you should hire a lawyer who understands the process. These claims can be complicated, and one wrong move can bar you from compensation. An employment law attorney can guide you in the right direction.
The damages available for a whistleblower claim include lost wages, job reinstatement, court costs, lawyer fees and even punitive damages.
Contact a New York Workplace Retaliation Lawyer
Unfortunately, speaking up about a problem in the workplace can lead to retaliation. If you have been fired or suffered other negative effects from whistleblowing, contact a lawyer to understand your legal rights.
Do not be silenced by your employer’s illegal acts. Fight back by contacting the aggressive attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. We can help you obtain damages for your employer’s illegal actions. Call our office at (347) 464-8694 to schedule a free consultation.