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Court Discusses Whistleblower Law

A woman was employed from a not for profit agency. She worked as a coordinator of the employment services. A New York Criminal Lawyer said when she was still a probationary, she was terminated for alleged unsatisfactory job performance. Eleven months later, she initiated an action claiming that she was terminated because of her objection to and refusal to participate in the agency’s alleged fraudulent billing to the city for placements it never made. The agency finds employment for job applicants or places them in educational or training programs, for which it receives funding from the city.

The agency moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it failed to satisfy the two elements which are conditions precedent to the maintenance of an action under a whistleblower law. Based on records, the whistleblower law applies to relatively few situations and several proponents accepted to its narrow scope and urged broader application.

Consequently, the woman asserted that the agency’s billing practices constituted a grand larceny. The court then denied the motion and finding that the complaint states a valid reason for action under the labor law. Based on records, the part of the labor law provides that an employer shall not take any disciplinary personnel action against an employee because such employee does discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that is in violation of law, rule or regulation which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.

The court cited that if the woman reasonably believed that the alleged fraudulent billing practice could create a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety. Such belief would not place her under the protection of labor law. A Long Island Criminal Lawyer said the law requires that there be not only an actual, as opposed to a possible, violation, but also an actual and substantial present danger to the public health. Reasonable belief as a basis for protection under the labor law will not be sufficient.

Moreover, if the woman argues, the refusal to participate in any unlawful activity, then the same argument can be made that any information or testimony provided by an employee to a public body investigating any violation of law is similarly protected. Not only would the term such be unnecessary, but the woman’s argument, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that the employee who initiates the investigation of unlawful activity by a public body would not be protected unless the unlawful activity creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety while the employee who testifies at a public hearing investigating the same unlawful activity would be protected regardless of whether the activity involved a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety. The labor law was narrowly drafted to protect only those employees who, with respect to conduct engaged in by their employer, disclose, provide information about, or refuse to participate in, unlawful activity that presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.

Consequently, the woman’s alternate argument that the agency’s alleged conduct in submitting false vouchers does, in fact, create a substantial and specific danger to the public health. She has not and apparently cannot set forth facts sufficient to establish a legal claim. Her statement that improper billing practices constitute a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, without any supporting facts, is legally deficient and will not support a reason for action.

For that reason, the order of the court that denied the agency’s motion to dismiss the complaint is reversed without costs or disbursements and the motion is granted.

Crimes occurred because someone forced them to do it or they just did something they are not aware to be a crime. If you have the same dilemma and you are facing a lawsuit in court, or have been charged with sex crimes, drug possession or theft, you can ask assistance from the New York City Criminal Lawyer. If your involvement needs the legal guidance of the NY White Collar Crime Attorneys, you can visit or call the office of Stephen Bilkis and Associates.