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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.

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15 Comments

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LL

So many coffee and donut shops are closed so the city is trying to start a citizens patrol.

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LL

This makes sense. The mayor is trying to give cops a reason to go out and patrol our streets. Many are just sitting around doing nothing.

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David

CeeCee- You failed to mention Trumps ignoring the virus’ worldwide outbreak and ignoring the daily intelligence briefings put on his desk everyday since January 1st. Dancing with flag and calling the virus a hoax in the first week of March.,His buddy Burr of North Carolina even executed stock trades based upon these briefs and briefings. Only in an op ed in the Post he stated everything was fine but told people in an E-mail the Coronavirus was ten times more contagious than the Spanish flu. No accountability for these guys.

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Concerned Renter

This should be extended to landlords and building management. They should be doing more to clean and disinfect common areas, sidewalks and ensuring that social distancing is possible within a premise. Fine them if they do not and withhold rent. Renters have rights. Make landlords responsible for providing hand sanitizers and wipes at entrances and elevators. All they seem to care about is money. Report unsanitary conditions to 311 and call a lawyer if you got ill at work or from common household areas. Its the only way they will learn to take precautions.

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Grace

So many people are sick and dying. And the nurses keep releasing dance and song videos they recorded at our local hospitals. I saw a recent one this morning on the news of nurses doing a sing a long sitting next to each other. One nurse was even playing the guitar. We should report them and just send the city the video. Videos like that send the wrong message to the rest of the public that is being told to avoid public gatherings and practice social distancing. The name of the song they sang was “i can see clearly now.” As i am texting this comment another video was just shown on tv of nurses dancing at Mt. Sinai that was posted yesterday. Funny how i hardly or never see healthcare workers posting videos dancing and singing during this pandemic coming from China and Europe.

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Georgia

Make masks mandatory during all times in public. Too many people are not wearing them and just casually talking on the phone or in groups while being so close to others.

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I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?

…it does a tremendous number on the lungs. Still, we need this law desperately. We all need to do our part for public health, and we should feel safe doing so.

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#wheresjimmy

He did not state that people should inject with Lysol
Are you that brainwashed comrade ?
Dear leader is a communist term
China would love you

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Critic Al

“Now is the time to get together and protect people from speaking up.” Huh? Your victimhood is heartbreaking.

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You're against reporting unsafe working conditions that may spread of COVID-19?

Did you read the rest of the article? You’re making fun of…COVID victims’…victimhood? Yikes.

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CeeCee

Now is the time to get together and protect people from speaking up. Media is doing its best to blame the spread of this virus in this country on “white” European travelers and make us all forget that it originated in China from eating bats or from a lab and all the cover ups and actions China took agaisnt doctors and scientists in their country that tried to warn the rest of the world. This virus is highly contagiousness and the EU would of acted much sooner if it had known the truth from China.

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Great point, Trump took WAY too long to respond

He had all the info in January. Didn’t do anything until April. Now we have record unemployment.

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IT'S THE THOUGHT POLICE

Our dear leader told millions of Americans not to wear masks. To hold huge public gatherings. To inject themselves with Lysol.

So why do we need to report people not wearing masks? Besides costing jobs, lives and the entire economy; Trump’s plan is working just fine.

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