You are reading

City Council Introduces Law to Protect Whistleblowers During COVID-19

Essential Worker during COVID-19 (Photo by Luke Jones on Unsplash)

April 25, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

City lawmakers have introduced legislation that would better protect whistleblowers from speaking out about safety practices at the workplace during COVID-19.

The bill – which was introduced by Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Brad Lander and Speaker Corey Johnson at Wednesday’s City Council meeting – looks to protect essential workers from speaking out against unsafe working conditions that may contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Kallos said that the legislation would protect workers from retaliation or being fired from their job without a “just cause.”

Employers would face fines of up to $2,500 for each violation, according to the legislation.

The bill stems from reports that medical workers were being threatened by their employers when they spoke out against equipment shortages and dire workplace conditions. The workers claimed that the conditions were putting their lives and patients at risk.

“Many have faced retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions and demanding protective equipment to keep them safe in order to better keep us safe,” Kallos said while introducing the legislation at Wednesday’s online sitting of City Council.

The bill extends in scope to all employees who are deemed to be essential workers during the state’s COVID-19 shutdown – some of whom have also been blowing the whistle on workplace conditions.

Under the legislation, essential workers are defined as people who work for businesses that are allowed to operate under Governor Cuomo’s March 18 economic shutdown order.  Essential businesses include health care services, banks, grocery stores, pharmacies and more.

In March, an employee at Trader Joe’s Rego Park store contacted the Queens post about alleged unsafe work practices and how workers were being put at risk. The employee spoke anonymously in order to protect himself from retaliation.

Earlier this week Trader Joe’s confirmed that five of its staff members at its Rego Park store had tested positive for COVID-19.

email the author: news@queenspost.com
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Queens Special Victims Squad joins search for alleged rapist in Downtown Flushing: NYPD

Detectives from the Queens Special Victims Squad have joined the urgent manhunt for the sexual predator who allegedly beat and raped a 53-year-old woman inside a commercial building in Downtown Flushing on the night of Sunday, July 14.

Police from the 109th Precinct in Flushing responded to a 911 call after the victim was attacked at 11:06 p.m. inside the business in the vicinity of Prince Street and 40th Road near the Bland Houses NYCHA complex after the perpetrator punched her multiple times in the head before forcibly raping her, police said. The stranger then fled on foot in an unknown direction.