Whistleblower Claim Dismissed; Workplace Violence Was Not a “Public Hazard”

In Ryan v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 32627(U) (Sup. Ct. NY Cty. Index 152457 /17 Dec. 15, 2017), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s New York Labor Law 740 whistleblower claim.

This action arose from an incident in which plaintiff was “attacked and forcibly pushed” by another employee, resulting in injuries to her neck, shoulder, and back. Plaintiff was eventually terminated. She sued, alleging violations of (inter alia) New York’s whistleblower statute, Labor Law 740.

The court summarized the law:

Labor Law 740, was designed to prevent health care employers from taking retaliatory action against a health care employee who “discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer that is in violation of law, rule or regulation which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or which constitutes health care fraud.” Labor Law 740(2)(a); see also 2002 NY ALS 24. In order to proceed with a claim under Labor Law 740, a plaintiff must identify the “substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety” that was disclosed or threatened to be disclosed. Id. Further, where a plaintiff asserts Labor Law 740 claims, “[t]he law requires that there be not only an actual,
as opposed to a possible violation, but also an actual and substantial present danger to the public health. Reasonable belief as a basis for protection under Labor Law § 7 40 will not suffice.,,

In sum, plaintiff’s claim failed because she was unable to identify a “substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety.”

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