The 9/11 attacks covered all of lower Manhattan with vast amounts of toxic cancer-causing dust that was breathed in by 500,000 downtown workers, residents, students, responders, and others during the many months after the attacks. In the years since, tens of thousands of those exposed to this dust have gotten sick with any number of 9/11-linked cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, blood cancer, cancer of the digestive system, and many other types. Many of those sickened do not know of the strong link between the 9/11 dust and their cancer which was often diagnosed many years later. There has also been a stark lack of awareness of the downtown civilian population (the area workers, residents, students, and others) that help is available, including lifetime 9/11 healthcare from the World Trade Center Health Program (the WTCHP) and tax-free compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (the VCF).
In recognition of the lack of awareness of the benefits available to the 9/11 civilian population, under the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State signed into law 9/11 NOTICE Act (the Notice Act). This legislation emerged as a means of ensuring that survivors, particularly those employees who returned to work in the aftermath, are fully informed of the rights and benefits available to them under the WTCHP and VCF.
The Notice Act places on businesses/employers with greater than 50 employees that were located in the New York City Exposure Zone (all of Manhattan south of Canal Street) between 9/11 and May 30, 2002, the requirement to notify their workers from that time of the availability of the significant benefits available to them by the WTCHP and the VCF. For these employers based in downtown Manhattan in 2001/2002, especially Human Resource (HR) representatives, understanding and complying with the Notice Act is paramount. The Notice Act demands more than passive acknowledgment—it necessitates active compliance, engagement, and effective communication.
However, the task is not as straightforward as sending a simple email. It involves the profound task of reaching out, informing, and potentially safeguarding the health of numerous individuals who served the city's downtown office and commercial spaces during its most challenging times. The information needs to be conveyed clearly, concisely, and in compliance with the stipulations of the Notice Act. This is where the expertise of a specialized law firm like Hansen & Rosasco comes into play.
The 9/11 Notice Act Protects 9/11's Forgotten Victims
While first responders and immediate victims of the 9/11 attacks garnered significant attention, there remains a vast community of victims who were exposed to toxic substances in the aftermath – those who lived, worked, or went to school in lower Manhattan during or after the attacks. The 9/11 Notice Act specifically requires employers with over 50 employees operating in downtown Manhattan to notify both past and current employees about the benefits they may be eligible for due to potential exposure in the aftermath of the tragic events.
What Does the 9/11 Notice Act Mean for Your Company?
The responsibility placed upon employers by the 9/11 Notice Act is a legal requirement to inform your employees about the potential 9/11-related illness benefits that are available to them. While this obligation may seem like just another daunting and cumbersome task, it is important to remember that the information you share is potentially life-changing for your employees. Compliance with the 9/11 Notice Act ensures they're aware of the support and resources available to them through the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, should they need them. These include financial compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), and medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).
How an Experienced 9/11 Attorney Can Help
As the implications of the 9/11 Notice Act come to light, your organization may not know where to begin. An experienced 9/11 attorney can guide you throughout the process, ensuring compliance and helping get a clear message across.
When your employees receive their "notice" about potential eligibility for 9/11 benefits, they will naturally have questions and concerns and shouldn't be left with a mere piece of paper or an email. Troy Rosasco, our law firm’s senior founding partner, is a recognized authority of the requirements of the 9/11 Notice Act, having an article published by the New York Law Journal on the same day that the Notice Act was signed into law.
Ensure Proper Compliance with Act Guidelines
Meeting the Act's guidelines isn't just about ticking boxes. It's about ensuring that your organization adequately educates its employees. A dedicated 9/11 attorney understands the nuances of the law and can help ensure that all the elements are covered to keep your company in compliance.
Utilize the Right Language to Speak to Your Employees
The various requirements of acts such as the 9/11 Notice Act can often be complex. An experienced 9/11 attorney can help translate these intricacies into language that's accessible and understandable to your employees. This ensures that your workforce is genuinely informed of their rights and options, rather than merely being notified that support is available.
Questions About the Notice Act? Consult an Experienced 9/11 Attorney
The responsibility bestowed upon businesses in the 9/11 Notice Act is monumental. The advice from counsel who understands the demands of the Notice Act is critical to ensuring your compliance with the Act. Equally important is an understanding of the complexities of the WTCHP and VCF, ensuring that employees are provided with accurate and informative guidance about these federal programs.
At Hansen & Rosasco, 9/11 laws aren't just a facet of what we do – it's all we do. Our deep-rooted experience with 9/11 cases equips us to offer comprehensive guidance to companies operating in downtown Manhattan. From ensuring compliance with the 9/11 Notice Act to directly addressing employee concerns, we are here by your side every step of the way.
For organizations looking for a deeper dive, we offer webinars tailored to ensure your HR team and employees fully grasp the implications of the Notice Act and the benefits therein. Equip your organization with the knowledge it needs. Consult with one of the dedicated 9/11 attorneys at Hansen & Rosasco today and ensure you're not just compliant, but genuinely caring for your employees in the wake of 9/11's far-reaching and long-term effects.