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Friday, August 09, 2013

Court of Claims judge held the court did not have jurisdiction to hear claims that Civil Service Law §75-b [the Whistleblower statute] has been violated



Court of Claims judge held the court did not have jurisdiction to hear claims that Civil Service Law §75-b [the Whistleblower statute] has been violated
Keskin v State of New York, NYS Court of Claims, 14 Misc3d 537

New York State’s "whistleblower" statutes” (Civil Service Law §75-b;* Labor Law §740) provide certain protections to an employee who discloses to a governmental body (Civil Service Law §75-b) or discloses or threatens to disclose to an employer or public body (Labor Law §740), information concerning a violation of a law, rule or regulation.

Kimberly Ann Keskin brought an action in the State’s Court of Claims seeking damages available to whistleblowers pursuant to Civil Service Law §75-b and Labor Law §740. As turned out, she sued in the wrong court.

Justice Philip J. Patti agreed with the State defendants that the Court of Claims "has no subject matter jurisdiction over a claim asserted under Civil Service Law §75-b," relying upon a decision by Judge John L. Bell in Taylor v State of New York (160 Misc 2d 120).

In Taylor, Justice Bell ruled that the State Legislature had not given the Court of Claims jurisdiction to adjudicate claims brought under Section 75-b. Accordingly, he concluded that “a claimant who contemplates an action under the statute would be well advised to institute an action in the Supreme Court rather than the Court of Claims.”

* §75-b 2.(a) of the Civil Service Law provides, in pertinent part, “A public employer shall not dismiss or take other disciplinary or other adverse personnel action against a public employee regarding the employee's employment because the employee discloses to a governmental body information: (i) regarding a violation of a law, rule or regulation which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety; or (ii) which the employee reasonably believes to be true and reasonably believes constitutes an improper governmental action.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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