Short explanation, because it's probably important to my question: Not too long ago I left my previous place of employment, let's call it Company A. I was working as department lead, and I left due to some minor conflicts with new management, and general mismanagement of company, but we parted on good terms.

But my departure had some consequences in the next several months, although not direct. In short, it led to problems in my department, which led to problems in departments that were working together with us, which in turn led to several other important employees leaving. Obviously, all this led to problems with projects and client.

Also, shortly after my departure one of the major clients of company A contacted me and offered me to work for his company as more or less independent contractor, and I agreed. But recently we got a rather big and important project with very short deadline, so I won't have enough time to assemble new team or finish it on my own. So my client decided to contact my previous employer. They didn't seem happy to work with me again, but they agreed nonetheless. And here is where my problem lies.

On the one hand, I always feel responsible for my projects and for the success of clients I work with. And, as an "insider" from company A, I know about some of the less ethical of their practices. For example, presenting less experienced employees to clients as more experienced, or people who work on 2-3 projects at the same time as "full-time contractors". These practices led to several failed project while I was working on company A, and were part of the reasons why I left. So I feel that my current client should know about those practices, to ensure success of our current project. At the same time, it really feels like badmouthing my previous employer, and it also doesn't sit well with me. So, what do you think would be ethical or right thing to do in my current situation?

Small edit: waiting for my original company to screw up, so their problems will become apparent isn't really an option. By that time it may be too late to salvage the project, if we will need to find new contractors, transfer work, project information, etc.

  • Could anything productive actually come of your sharing this information? It seems like poor leverage if your goal is to obtain more resourcing from company A. If you are going to have problems regardless of what you share (since the timeline doesn't allow any other option that to rely on A), I would think maintaining as positive a relationship as possible would be more of a priority than sharing information that is not going to make any difference to the project.
    – Lyrl
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 20:26
  • 1
    Are you in charge of managing the whole project, including the portion that Company A is doing?
    – ventsyv
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 20:26
  • @Lyrl We can try looking for other contractors, maybe hire additional consultant. Even simple knowledge of these things can help project management (from my client's side) better do their job.
    – orbitBret
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 21:33
  • @ventsyv I will be in charge of more or less half of the project. Another parts of the project will be mostly out of my control.
    – orbitBret
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


IMHO, try to stay on record as much as possible.

Knowing what you know, you can "discover" specific problems and point them out with no context to your previous employment experience.

Also, in case you are in charge of the project yourself and previous employer team is your team for now, there are few things you can implement to keep track and accountability.

Update: Perhaps ask the client to put you in charge of the entire project so there would be apparent chain of command

Update 2: If developer on site - he works ;) Remote work is much harder to control, but there are status meetings and tasks scheduled for specific times This way at least scheduled tasks will be reported as complete , work in progress or pending

with weekly or daily status reports it easy to see the progress made.

  • 1
    What about issues where the employer uses one employee for multiple full time contracts? How would the OP "discover" that without having insider knowledge?
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 18:38
  • Thanks for suggestion, but there are 2 problems here: I will only be in charge of more or less half of the project. And by the time these problems will become apparent, it may be too late to salvage the project. I will update original question.
    – orbitBret
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 20:01

You need to think about this. You were a department lead in a company with unethical practices. They are going to conclude you participated in unethical practices.

  • It's not really that simple. Before I became department lead, I didn't really know about those practices. Upper management never really disclosed how we are marketed as contractors. Even after I became department lead, I found out about it mostly by accident. Contracts with clients or marketing were never in out job description.
    – orbitBret
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 19:59
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    When you knew is immaterial. What matters is what the new company concludes.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 20:02
  • While a good point, this is more a commen than a complete answer, as it does not answer the question as asked, which is how to handle the situation.
    – sleske
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 7:12

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