A few years ago, I worked as an IT Manager under a CIO who had hired me on and gave me my start in IT. We worked very well together and when he left to start his own IT company, he called me a few months later with a job offer, a share of the company, and promised the moon.

Now, a few years later, none of those promises have come to pass and I am making less money than I would be if I had stayed on at my previous job. My business partner is really more my boss as I don't have enough of the company stock to be a minor partner. I typically just get work handed down to me by his clients or by himself directly.

One of our clients is so impressed with my work that they have asked if I would be interested in working for them directly. They are in the process of putting together an offer that would be a big increase over what I make now (more than 50%) plus benefits. The added bonus is that it would be as a full-time employee, meaning I would not have to pay extra taxes for being self-employed.

While I have no qualms personally about leaving my business partner, I am concerned about the ethics involved. I would be leaving my current position to take the same position for another company to maintain intranet sites and reports developed under my current company for which the client does have current contracts. Does this constitute a breach of business ethics somewhere?

I'm not asking about the legal part of this, just from the ethical side. I already know what my contract says and I don't need legal representation. I am asking strictly about the ethical implications.

  • It's purely opinion based, but I'm going to say the majority will say "no". It is expected that you change jobs, it's expected that you stay in a similar profession, it's expected that you get and take offers from people that you know, and it's reality that people you know and who need someone of your profession are people you met at work. But you may have a contract with a non-compete clause, which may be unenforcable depending on the state, best look into that. – Peter Mar 2 '18 at 16:05
  • 3
    VTC - This has nothing to do with ethics. This has everything to do with your employment and partnership agreement. Legal advice should be sought. – Wesley Long Mar 2 '18 at 16:06
  • My partnership agreement does not exclude or forbid me from taking employment with a client, only from taking jobs from clients while posing as a representative of the company with the intention of taking the money myself rather than give it to the company. – Mighty Ferengi Mar 2 '18 at 16:08
  • 1
    Networking is part of the job. People who network get better jobs. – Donald Mar 2 '18 at 16:11
  • 1
    Out of curiosity, have you ever spoken to your partner about the relationship between you two, or about the direction of the company? Have you tried asserting yourself in the company? – AndreiROM Mar 2 '18 at 16:16

I see no ethical problems with leaving a job where you haven't been treated as promised for a new opportunity. I also don't see a problem with leaving a job for an opportunity that stems from doing good work for the company where you are currently employed, even if it is for a client of your current company. In my experience, a lot of job opportunities arise from doing a good job where you are. If you consider that all new jobs look at your resume, then perhaps all jobs come from doing a good job where you are.

Aside 1: if a new company can offer you 50% more plus benefits (in other words, more than 50% more) to do the same job, it's a sign that you might be dramatically underpaid. If you decide to stay, you should articulate the value you're bringing to the company and demand a lot more money and or a bigger ownership stake.

Aside 2: it wouldn't hurt to check your contract thoroughly and consider acquiring legal advice to be certain that you wouldn't be violating any terms you've agreed to.

| improve this answer | |
  • I didn't realize how dramatically underpaid I was until I got this offer. Then I started looking. Positions are offering up to twice what I am making now in the area where my client is. I've pointed this out, but to no avail. – Mighty Ferengi Mar 2 '18 at 16:30
  • 1
    Maybe "Ferengi" is not quite the right username then :-( – gnasher729 Mar 2 '18 at 16:34
  • @MightyFerengi would all of these jobs require you to re-locate? How does the pay compare with the area where you currently live? – dbeer Mar 2 '18 at 16:35
  • @gnasher729 - Truly so. I'm not a good Ferengi, just a big Trek fan. – Mighty Ferengi Mar 2 '18 at 16:39
  • @dbeer - Yeah, it does require relocation, but the pay his higher than my current area. The cost of living is a little higher, but not enough to offset the raise in pay. – Mighty Ferengi Mar 2 '18 at 16:45

You own a small part in a company, and you work for the company. That's entirely separate from each other. If you don't like your job including the pay, it is absolutely ethical to find a job that pays more.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .