Was this business situation unethical?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Was this business situation unethical?

A few years ago, my boss the owner of the company was insistent that I sign a 3 year contract with him. The clause included a 15k early termination penalty, which I later discovered was not a legal contractual provision in my country and was unenforceable after I signed it. I take full responsibility for overlooking this and not getting it checked by a lawyer, considering it a lesson learned I was only 23 at the time. During the first year of my contract, I was worked in to the ground and forced to work between 13-16 hours a day and did not have the managerial authority to hire anyone to help me. I wanted to leave but had the 15k buyout hanging over my head. I complained to my employers and, at the end of the first year, they actually gave me a pay increase because I was complaining about unpaid overtime. We sent down to lunch, he and the general manager offered me an increase and we shook hands and left back for work. When I returned to the office, he came to me in private and said,

Asked on January 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The law does not enforce ethics--it only enforces the law. If a contract is legal, it will be enforced regardless of its morality. If it is not legal, it will not be enforced, but there is no additional compensation for one party, or penalty to the other, due to its immorality or unethicalness. So the ethics are irrelevant.

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