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At the start of this year, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued a “Guidance on Whistleblowing Programs.” The DFS is the department of the New York state government responsible for enforcing regulating financial services and products within the state, including those subject to the insurance, banking and financial services laws. The Guidance recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” model for a whistleblower program. Although certain statutes may mandate the existence of a whistleblower program, with the most limited exception, the laws, rules and regulations do not specify the design of these programs.

Many laws prohibit employers in the private sector from retaliating against whistleblowers, but with the most limited exception, these statutes do not mandate any formal whistleblower program. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 (OSHA) protects those who have reported or complained about workplace safety and health issues and Title VII, the ADA, ADEA, and related anti-discrimination statutes all contain prohibitions against retaliation for any employee who complains in good faith of a perceived violation of one of these laws, but none of these statutes mandates a whistleblower program.

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