There has been a sharp increase in the number of whistleblowers since the beginning of the new millenium. A whistleblower is a person who releases unauthorized information to a regulator or the public showing that the company or government agency the person works for is doing something wrong. Prior to 2000, the number of whistleblowers in a decade only exceeded thirteen people in the 1990’s. Since 2000, there have been over 70 people who have been whistleblowers. One of the reasons for the increased number of whistleblowers is because of Whistleblower protection laws that have been enacted by both the federal and state governments. In Webb-Weber v. Community Action for Human Services, the NYCourt of Appeals reviews the Whistle-blower Protection statute and how it protects whistleblowers at the initial stage of their lawsuit. For a FREE CONSULTATION on how a lawyer from our network can help you, please call Los Angeles Lawyers at (855) 977-1212.
NeY’s Labor Law § 740 (2), known as the “whistleblower statute”, protects people who reveal a violation of “law, regulation or rule” committed by his/her company or agency to a regulator or public agency. In Webb-Weber, the chief operating officer of a not-for-profit company that provides services for mentally and physically disabled persons informed the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and the City fire department of several issues that threatened the safety of the residents of the facility. These included fire safety violations, falsifications of patient prescription and treatment records, mistreatment of residents, as well as deficiencies in patient care and the facility. In September 2009, she was fired in retaliation for her revelation of the wrongdoing mentioned above, according to Webb-Weber.
Shortly after she was fired, Wendy Webb-Weber (“plaintiff”) sued Community Action and its CEO David Bond for violating Labor Law § 740 (2) among other claims. Community Action and Bond (“defendants”) moved immediately dismiss all the claims including the whistleblower claim. The defendants’ motion to dismiss was predicated upon Webb-Weber’s failure to identify the “law, regulation or rule” that Community Action allegedly violated. The plaintiff filed a cross-motion to request that she be allowed to amend her complaint. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiff’s cross-motion. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed the NYSupreme Court and dismissed the plaintiff’s whistleblower lawsuit. The Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case.
The issue that the Court of Appeals decided was whether a plaintiff needs to identify the “law, regulation or rule” that the defendants supposedly violated in her complaint in order to continue with her lawsuit. The Court of Appeals ruled that she did not have to do so. The Court said that the statute requires the plaintiff to specify the “activity, policy or practice” that she reported to regulators, but does not require that she identify the statute. The plaintiff will need to demonstrate the “law, regulation or rule” that was violated in order to recover damages on her lawsuit, but she does not need to identify them in her complaint. The Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division decision and denied the motion to dismiss by Community Action and Bond.
Continue to come to LA Jewish Lawyer blog for the latest legal news. Please call our toll-free number (855) 977-1212 for a FREE CONSULTATION about your legal matter from one of our network of attorneys.