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New York considers legislation to enhance whistleblower compensation and protections

Amidst a growing trend among the states to use whistleblowers to fight fraud and corruption in the private or public sector, legislation is now pending in New York that would revise existing laws to add new whistleblower rewards and protections.
 
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    February 01, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New York considers legislation to enhance whistleblower compensation and protections

Article provided by Jonathan A. Willens, LLC
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Amidst a growing trend among the states to use whistleblowers to fight fraud and corruption in the private or public sector, legislation is now pending in New York that would revise existing laws to add new whistleblower rewards and protections. The New York State Senate will reconvene in January 2014 to consider Bill S4362. If passed, the bill would extend whistleblower coverage to individuals who provide original information concerning violations of the state's insurance, banking and financial services laws to the New York Department of Financial Services.

The legislation is based on similar whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank is a federal law that authorizes the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to reward individuals who provide information concerning violations of federal commodities and securities laws, and provides protections against retaliation by employers against whistleblowers.

Whistleblower rewards

Proposed Bill S4362 would make whistleblowers providing information on these types of fraud eligible to receive an award ranging from 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions recovered by the Department of Financial Services based on their information.

Whistleblower awards can be quite substantial. The largest whistleblower award on record to date for an individual was in a federal case in 2009. Bradley Birkenfeld received $104 million for helping the federal government reach a $780 million settlement in a tax fraud case against Swiss bank UBS AG.

Whistleblower protections

Under the proposed legislation, whistleblower protections are extended to current or former employees, contractors or agents of any private or public employer. Whistleblowers who are discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened , harassed or discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment, or otherwise harmed or penalized by an employer, or a prospective employer, because of whistleblowing activities, are entitled to "all relief necessary to make the employee, contractor or agent whole." Such relief includes, but is not limited to:
-An injunction to restrain continued discrimination.
-Hiring, contracting or reinstatement to the position such person would have had but for the discrimination or to an equivalent position.
-Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights.
-Payment of two times back pay, plus interest.
-Compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Being a whistleblower involves potential risk of retaliation. Individuals with whistleblower concerns should consult a qualified attorney, who can provide guidance about investigating the matter to determine whether there will be sufficient supporting evidence to proceed.



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