Assemblymember Steck’s Bill Granting Whistleblowers’ Rights Passes Assembly

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that his legislation to eliminate a penalty for whistleblowers passed the Assembly (A.2565).

“NYS law currently does not allow a whistleblower to bring any other type of claim together with a whistleblower claim. If they do, their other claims are subject to dismissal. This penalty adversely impacts whistleblowers who, as a result of their whistleblowing activity, also suffered some other unlawful act, such as breach of contract, retaliation, discrimination, etc.” said Assemblymember Steck “Whistleblower claims are particularly important because they expose corruption in both government and society, so discouraging legitimate whistleblower claims is a barrier to remedying corruption.”

Steck’s legislation eliminates a self-contradictory provision that prevents whistleblowers from making more than one claim, thus diminishing their rights. The only category of legal claims where this penalty applies is to whistleblowers. Simply put, they should be extended the same rights as every other citizen.

“It is extremely important to protect the rights of a whistleblower. I became a whistleblower because of my concern about the health and safety of students within the school district I worked because of their response to a sexual assault of a student in a locker room that the school did not report to the victim’s parents,” said Lou Cioffi. “In becoming a whistleblower, you put your reputation, your career, and the financial future of you and your family, on the line by doing the right thing. Therefore, it is imperative that a whistleblower be protected by law; because you cannot count on those you are blowing the whistle on to protect you or respect your fights.”

Steck has been a tireless advocate for transparency and accountability. Mr. Cioffi won a landmark whistleblower case based on his constitutional right to freedom of speech, which has redefined how whistleblowers are treated by New York State school districts.

“No citizen should ever feel unable to come forward with claims of corporate or government wrongdoing,” said Steck. “If New York is truly committed to weeding out corruption, then we need to open doors so that more people can shine a light on malfeasance without the fear of being unfairly punished.”