Re: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job

Subject: Re: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job
From: Laura Lemay <lemay -at- lauralemay -dot- com>
To: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 14:04:57 -0700

Combs, Richard wrote:
> No. The _wording_ of the contract determines _what_ you're bound to do,
> not _whether_ you're bound to do it. If you're a party to the contract,
> you're bound by it (assuming it's legal).

As others have mentioned earlier in this thread, most contracts have
some sort of release clause where the client can dismiss you at any time
or you can leave at any time (or with some number of days of notice).
Every contract I've ever worked, W2 or 1099, has had a release clause,
some more advantageous than others. I've negotiated some to be at least
equal for me and the client.

But there's what's right per the legal letter of the contract, verus the
much squishier notions of ethics and reputation. In the letter of the
contract it may be just fine to exit a contract early. But will that
tick off your client so that you'll never get hired again? Will they
give you a bad reference? Will word get around that you skip out on
jobs? That's a harder problem.

I once had a contract that turned really bad. The job description
changed four times in the first month I was there. There was a big war
between engineering and docs over who owned the job. Nearly every day
there were long meetings in which minutae of how documents were to be
produced were argued over again and again. Some meetings turned
literally violent thanks to severe personality clashes between group
members (not with me). The contract was open-ended, but I stuck it out
for six months before quitting. When I left both the engineering and
docs managers expressed surprise that I had stayed that long, apologized
for things being so messed up, and congratulated me on being so
professional in the face of insurmountable odds. One of the managers is
to this day one of my best references.

Legally, I could have left at any time (and it would have been much
better for my sanity if I had left the moment I figured out that things
were very wrong). Ethically, and in the long run, it was far better for
me to stay.

In Richard's case, if it were me, I would definitely stay. There's too
much potential for reputation risk by leaving. Bird in the hand, etc.


Laura Lemay Killer of Trees lemay % lemay %


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RE: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job: From: Combs, Richard

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