Health and Ethics
(New York City)
I have been working for a com for around 3 years. I plan on resigning and want to make sure I can collect my UI. I'm in the retail furniture industry. One of the problems is that we are getting furniture in that has stickers saying its treated with chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm in the State of California. Ive mentioned I don't want to work around these pieces and that I wasn't informed that I would be when hired. He is also removing the stickers before selling them to customers which I feel is very unethical and certainly against my ethics. He also charges clients tax then doesn't claim it and deposits the money. I have photos and documentation of all the aforementioned.
Do I have grounds to collect UI?
I don't know what the rules are governing the furniture industry in New York let alone regarding the removal of stickers required by the State of California for furniture sold there.
California is sort of unto itself in many regards to rules and laws that only apply there.
So, off the top of my head and from what I recall from prior searches of the NY interpretation index, I would suspect you'd have to first figure out if removing those labels is illegal for him and specifically for you to do.
I suspect that if not illegal and because the harm warning is specific to California, the quit due to the fact you handle the furniture in some way would be found acceptable for personal reasons, but disqualifying for payment of unemployment benefits, i.e., without good cause.
As for the sales tax fraud .. has he asked you to do anything that
would implicate you as complicit in getting the fraud done?
Ethical an moral reasons can be good cause to quit, however, these types of reasons are not the path of least resistance in my opinion. You should read up on what NY may interpret as good enough for the payment of UI benefits.
Being aware of illegalities is one thing, as is being fired for some trumped up reason in retaliation for being aware and refusing to comply with an unreasonable directive from an employer to comply.
But, the level of and why you have this knowledge
and proof to prove tax fraud, is of course of concern to me.
Have you checked the NY unemployment law interpretation index out yet?
It would be worth your investment of time to hone down to the causes you presented here just to feel more assured one way or the other about the potential for benefits when quitting a job.
Sadly, my typical advice to people is not to quit .. because there is no way in hell I can crawl into someone's mind through this computer screen to get at all the details I would want .. if I were in their position.
When an employee is fired however, I know that is what shifts the initial burden of proof to prove good cause (misconduct) to the employer before it starts swinging like a kitchen door.
And yes, I'm now talking about unemployment appeal hearings where the burden is shifted back and forth via testimony and evidence.
Take it for what it's worth .. I can't tell you it even comes close to being a sure thing Michael.
Might want to check OSHA out to find federal guidelines on that chemical.