Legislative Memo



S. 3893 (Maziarz)



Expands Whistleblower Protections



April 8, 2005


This bill would amend the Labor Law and expand whistleblower protections beyond the already existing protections available in Section 740 of the Labor Law.

The Business Council opposes this bill because:

Diminished employee responsibility
the bill expands protection from employees who report actual employer illegal business activities to employees who report what they reasonably believe is an illegal business activity. This would subject employers to potential legal action every time an employee wants the court to judge whether their report about the employer was based on a reasonable belief that an illegal business activity has occurred.

Performance of job duties
it adds new provisions allowing employees to refuse to participate in activities, policies or practices which, again, the employee believes are illegal business activities. This means that employees could refuse to perform their job duties until after a court decided that their refusal was or was not based on a reasonable belief. This suspension of work activity pending a court action would be extremely disruptive to the employer's efforts to provide goods and services to customers.

No limits
It expands the scope of an alleged employer violation from the current limit within the labor law to any action that the employee "...who in good faith reasonably believes that an illegal business activity has occurred or will occur..." It appears that there would not be any area not covered by this bill. The only limit to what could be alleged would rest in the imagination of the person making the allegation of what they believe is an illegal activity.

The bill introduces very vague language which would be open to broad interpretation which, rather than clarifying an issue, would instead introduce significant confusion.

Another required bulletin-board posting
It requires that employers post yet another mandatory bulletin-board notice and then waives the requirement that the employee notify the employer, as required by the law, if the notice is not posted.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be reported by the Senate Labor Committee.