I worked for a 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 current 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. The manager accused my co-worker of being disloyal and said because of her quitting, they had to deny the position to someone else she liked. The manager later complained to me about the (ex-)co-worker.

I just got offered another job with better hours, working under 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.

  • 8
    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, 2014 at 20:32
  • 8
    1) No. 2) "I've found another job - here's my letter giving written notice".
    – A E
    Dec 17, 2014 at 12:48
  • About the ethics, I assume your contract specifies you can leave with one month notice. This contract was not just signed by you, but also by the company. It would be unethical of the company to make a fuss about what they clearly agreed to when they signed the contract...
    – AVee
    Feb 14, 2020 at 12:38
  • Does this answer your question? How do I resign without burning bridges when I'm a critical staff member?
    – darkside
    Sep 23, 2021 at 23:40

4 Answers 4


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!

  • 5
    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, 2014 at 1:50
  • 3
    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, 2014 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; he hires you because there is work to be done and 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 :)


Is it unethical to leave?

I feel like the word "unethical" is used a lot when it doesn't even apply to ethics. Ethics involve being honest about your intentions and making good effort towards that. Since you're only bounded by your internal "code of ethics" being unethical doesn't apply. You're really being ethical if you think about it: you turn in the notice you're required by contract (either two weeks or as the terms of the contract) and you simply work out your notice period and do work as requested.

If not, how do I break it to her?

Since you have a job offer, make sure it is a written offer (not a verbal offer) and that you have agreed to a starting date after your notice period.

  1. Figure out what notice period you have to give. If you are not under a contract, a 2 weeks notice is generally acceptable in America.
  2. Get a written offer by your new employer with a solid starting date after your notice period.
  3. Turn in your notice
  4. Work your notice period until your last day
  5. Start your new job
  6. Profit!!

I should add in that you're probably going to do an exit interview at some point. Do not at any time talk bad about the company as you leave. It's tempting to talk about your problems at the workplace but reality is since you're leaving all those issues are no longer applicable so bringing them up or letting it all out could ruin your reference. Simply say you found a job that suits your needs. Thank them then leave on good terms.

Also, your boss may make you go on a guilt trip. Do not fall for this. It's not your responsibility for others at your workplace and as such you should consider your own career and what is best for you.


The other answers are very good; I want to add an additional point not covered.

You are 'firing' the company

As Mike mentioned, this is a business relationship and you are planning on terminating it.

Remember: your company is your client.

When you hire a plumber, that person would consider you their client. If you mistreated them, e.g., made them wait for hours, left a bunch of junk and trash in the way of the plumbing & demanded they clean it all, called them names, etc. they would FIRE YOU.

Your company is not living up to your standards of providing an acceptable work environment. Firing them is reasonable and acceptable.

You must log in to answer this question.

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