NY Appeals Court Protects Whistleblower Nurse by LawCrossing

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NY Appeals Court Protects Whistleblower Nurse

When, in 2007, Joyce Villarin notified a state agency of an elementary school student at the Ramaz School had a
facial injury allegedly caused by his father, the system started to work against the school nurse. Officials at the
Orthodox Jewish school warned her not to report the incident, and subsequently she was fired to cover up child
abuse. Villarin filed a lawsuit against the school.




04/13/12                                                         The court wrote, “We find that plaintiff’s claim falls
                                                                 within both the letter and the spirit of the private-
In 2010, Justice Milton Tingling of the Manhattan                employee whistleblower statute.”
Supreme Court allowed the motion of the school
claiming that Villarin’s claim of wrongful termination           The majority differed with the dissenting judges Justice
was not tenable. However, in the same order, the court           Leland DeGrasse and Justice David Friedman who
ruled that Villarin’s claim of retaliatory action by the         held that a ‘single instance’ of failing to misreport was
school had merit and survives despite opposition from            insufficient to prove ‘policy.’
the school.
                                                                 Writing for the majority, Justice Renwick commented
The case came up for appeal and a divided New                    that accepting the arguments of the dissenting judges
York State appeals court ruled in favor of Villarin on           would put employees “on the horns of a dilemma.” In
Thursday.                                                        the instant case of Villarin, “If she remains silent, she
                                                                 would subject herself to civil liability for failing to report
The court found that Villarin was protected by the               it under 413 … If she performs her duties under 413,
state’s whistleblower laws when she reported the child           she would be subject to termination by her employer
abuse to government authorities.                                 without any whistleblower protection.”


The court held that Section 740 of the state’s Labor             As such, the appeals court found Villarin’s claim of
Law prevents a private employer from taking “any                 “retaliatory action” allowed by the Supreme Court to be
retaliatory personnel action” against any employee               valid and protected by whistleblower’s law.
who objects to a policy that violates law and creates
“substantial and specific danger to public health and            The case is Villarin v. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein School,
safety.”                                                         Appellate Division, First Department, No. 6220.




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