Can I file a lawsuit against my workplaceif thecode of ethics are broken?

UPDATED: Feb 8, 2012

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Can I file a lawsuit against my workplaceif thecode of ethics are broken?

My girlfriend is in retail and recently her district manager has been very shady towards her and she just found out that he and another store manager has been telling the other employees to give her a hard time so that word could go to head office and in return get her terminated. My girlfriend resigned before they could fire her. They also kept her paid vacation and neglected to file taxes on money given to her resulting in her having an issue with the IRS. What steps does she need to take in order to get this resolved?

Asked on February 8, 2012 under Business Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Can you file a lawsuit if a company's voluntary code of ethics is broken? Almost certainly not: such codes do not have any legal effect, unless possibly they are incorporated into an employment contract. (Then you'd be suing for breach of contract.)

However, violation of the tax law could result in a cause of action, if because of the company's negligent (careless) or intentional failure to file, your girlfriend has paid more than she should have (such as fines or penalties, or possibly interest, too; she can't file about the tax itself, since presumably she had to pay that no matter what).

Also, if the company policy was to pay vacation on termination, or your girlfriend had any agreement obligating them to pay it, then she may have a claim for the wages due for those days, too.

Finally, if she thinks she was harassed, etc. because she was a woman, she may have a claim for sex-based harassment.

Therefore, it is possible, depending on the exact circumstances, that your girlfriend may have one or more legal claims.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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