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I have this dilemma: I have worked with this contracting company for three years. I am grateful that they sponsored me and arranged a work visa and now I have obtained permanent residency. During that time, I was placed to work at this place with a crazy director. She often fired the managers my company placed and while they found someone else, they would make me cover those positions, which I hated, but felt obliged to do. They eventually lost the contract with her, and I was placed somewhere else. The work environment is bullying at best and the hours are affecting my personal life. Another co-worker just quit (she even gave 1 months notice) and the manager flipped. She told her she was disloyal and because of her, they had to deny the position to someone else she liked. And then that manager comes to me and complains about her. I just got offered another job with better hours and with a manager I used to know and like. My questions are: 1) is it unethical to leave? 2) If not, how do I break it to her? I had promised a while ago to cover her position, because she's going on vacation for a month this summer.

Thanks!

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Visa sponsorship is no small thing and if it's a small company it takes a lot of investment. However, if you were worth sponsoring then you are also worth keeping happy. If the environment is as toxic as you suggest (and you're not exaggerating to support your own ambition) then you should have no qualms about leaving with little notice. What are you worried about? You have no ethical obligation whatsoever -- unless of course you knew all along you were just working there for the visa sponsorship. In that case you should still leave but perhaps with more notice. Finally, take care of you. –  kingdango Mar 24 at 20:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I know what you're going through, to an extent. I didn't have the same kind of connection to my employer with the work visa, but the company was the first career-level job I had ever had. They had given me a lot of training, mentored me, and made me a much better software developer than I was when I started. I had a very close relationship with most of my coworkers and managers, and it was very much a "family environment" company. This can make it very difficult to leave. Especially when you have a manager or executive that has a difficult time accepting employee turnover. I put in my two-weeks notice Friday morning, and was asked to leave the premises by noon that day.

While they have helped you grow and have been a very influential and beneficial part of your life, you have to remember this:

This is business - While they helped with your work visa, and have seemingly done a lot for you, you have to remember this: You came to work every day, worked hard, and gave them just as much back as they have given you. Especially given how many people you filled in for, and how many hours of "extra" work you gave them. It may be hard for them to accept you leaving, but the fact is, you don't technically owe them anything.

So no, I do not under any circumstances believe that it is unethical to leave. Being an employee is a two-way relationship. Yes, they have paid you, been good to you, and offered you an opportunity to grow. But from what you've said, they've also squeezed every last drop of effort out of you that they can. They've paid you, and you've worked hard. There is no reason to feel bad about leaving.

As far as how to break the news....if you are truly attached to this place on a personal level, there won't be an easy way to do it. More to the point, if your manager tends to take employee turnover in a less-than-professional way, there may not be a way to break the news in a way that won't upset her. However, you have to be as professional about it as you can, and just "roll with the punches", as it were.

If I were you, I would draft up a formal, typed "two-weeks notice" letter. Giving two-weeks notice will be essential to professionally leaving the company. I would make several copies, if necessary. (One for your manager, one for HR, and one for your own records) and sign all of the copies by hand under your printed signature. Personally give the letter to your manager, and inform her of why you're leaving. Don't make it any more personal than needed. Simply inform her of your decision to leave, thank her for all that the company has done, express your gratitude and pride in the work that you've done, and thank her for the opportunities that you've been given and wish her well. If your manager doesn't take the news well, simply say "I'm sorry that you feel that way. I would really like to part with the company on good terms." That's about all that you can do.

Although I must stress this: DO NOT put in a two-weeks notice, or even hint at the fact that you're leaving, until you have signed an official offer letter from the company that you will be joining.

From what you've said about the work environment, I believe that this change would probably be a good move for you. Working in a "bullying" environment is never healthy, and can really make you hate the work that you're doing.

I hope that this helps. Let me know if I can go into further detail on anything. Good luck!

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Excellent point, perfectly stated: this is business. You've essentially concluded that this business relationship is no longer in you best interest. What do you suppose would happen if they reached the same conclusion? They wouldn't hesitate. –  Chip Mar 23 at 1:50
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Mike and Chip thank you so much for you advice. It has helped to put things in perspective. I will make absolutely sure that this prospective job is a sure thing. It is going to be difficult to quit, especially since I know she won't take it very well, but I have to think for ME. Thank you Mike, it was super helpful and your words were very encouraging. –  Marce Mar 23 at 7:28

I'll pile on and add to the consensus that it's just business. An employer doesn't hire you because he loves you because there is work to be done he needs you to get it done. You gave a lot more than I would for the money that you got paid, which is one reason why you were allowed to stay on the job. Yes, they provided you training and support but that's because they wanted to squeeze more performance and more work out of you. You need not feel guilty about leaving. If anything, they they got by far the better part of the bargain. It's all right for you to feel that you owe them for the sponsorship and the first job, the proper response is to say "Thank you" and leave it at that :) They are a business and they'll eventually find someone else. You need to get on with your life. There is much more to America than an outfit run by a lousy manager :)

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