New York has historically been known as a bedrock of employment-at-will. Its legislature and courts were long resistant to permitting exceptions to this doctrine, such as by recognizing public policy “wrongful dismissal” lawsuits outside the statutory prohibitions against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation set forth in the state Human Rights Law.
In recent years, though, New York has significantly expanded legal protections for private-sector employees. For instance, the #MeToo era led to sex harassment law reforms, and the legislature has expanded discrimination law protections to independent contractors.
New York has now also dramatically expanded protections for private-sector whistleblowers. New York’s whistleblower law, codified at Section 740 of the Labor Law, had provided narrow whistleblower rights, prohibiting retaliation only against employees who complained of practices that actually constitute a “substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.”
By Philip Berkowitz and Jeanine Conley Daves via Littler