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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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