April 1, 2022

A former employee's right to bring an action alleging a violation of Civil Service Law §75-b, the "whistle blower law," survives the employee's separation from employment

In this CPLR action the Appellate Division rejected a lower court's ruling that Civil Service Law §75-b does not apply to actions taken by a public employer against a former employee prohibited by §75-b after an employee has resigned.

Rather, said the court, Civil Service Law §75-b prohibits a public employer from dismissing or taking any "other disciplinary or other adverse personnel action against a public employee regarding the employee's employment" because the employee discloses information of either:

(1) a violation of rule or law which presents a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, or 

(2) improper governmental action (see Matter of Kowaleski [New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs.], 16 NY3d 85. 

The Appellate Division explained this includes "... blacklisting and providing negative references to an individual's prospective employers in retaliation for prior reports of government misconduct." Such actions may constitute adverse personnel action within the meaning of §75-b in the same way that the State Human Rights Law has been found to cover certain violations of the State Human Rights Law, citing Beckett v Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 893 F Supp 234."

 

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