When employees, contractors or subcontractors of a public transportation agency in New York or any other state decide to report unlawful action by their employer, they are protected by provisions of the National Transit Systems Security Act, or NTSSA. This law states that whistleblowers shall be protected from discrimination, demotion, firing or other punishments when they perform this action. Employees are also protected if they refuse to comply with unlawful orders or decide to cooperate with a legal investigation.
The NTSSA is designed to protect employees when they report hazardous safety or security conditions. They are also protected from refusing to work in dangerous conditions or refusing to authorize the use of unsafe equipment or materials. These actions are only protected if the employee is acting in good faith and reasonably believes the hazard presents in imminent danger that can't be immediately removed.
Employees who believe that their NTSSA protections have been violated have legal remedies. With the help of an attorney, they may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor that provides details about the violation. An investigation may then be conducted to find out if the complaint has the evidence required to support the employee's claims. The complaint must show that the whistleblower's actions were the direct cause of the termination, demotion or other discriminatory action against the employee.
The Secretary of Labor has 120 days to deny or accept the whistleblower complaint. In an accepted claim, the final order will describe how much damages are owed to the employee whose rights were violated. If the employer fails to comply with the order, a civil action can be filed against them. In the case of a denial, a lawyer may help their client file an appeal with the appropriate United States Court of Appeals.