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I'm in a bad situation in my job. The project lead on the project I've been assigned to left the company and pretty much left the project in a state with a very large amount of work that needed finishing. Because I was the only other coder on the project, I've was handed that enormous amount of work with an unrealistic deadline which at first I didn't notice because I skimread the requirements (I wasn't the project technical lead), but now I do realize how impossible it is to deliver on time.

I'm pretty much being made a scapegoat for the failure of the project by management instead of the tech lead who just walked out, who IMHO is the real reason the project won't be delivered to the client on time. I've had enough of this and handed in my notice recently but I still technically have 3 weeks to go until my notice period ends. Could I just flat-out refuse to do any more work on this project considering that it's pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster? I feel like either way I will be blamed for the failure so why waste time working on it. Could I be fired for gross misconduct if I refused to work my notice period?

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    How will refusing to work (versus doing the best you can) help the case of you being "made a scapegoat"? – Dukeling Aug 27 '17 at 7:46
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You gave your notice, and you work to the end of your notice. If you refuse to work during your notice, of course you can and likely will be fired. Now personally I would likely be quite demotivated and might not produce my best work, but you need to make sure that you are seen working. And ask whoever your manager is what their priorities are (since finishing the project isn't going to happen).

I'm not quite sure what your management is thinking. Blaming you doesn't solve the company's problem that they can't deliver on time. Blaming the tech lead doesn't solve their problem either, obviously. The solution would be to try to renegotiate the contract with the client, and/or hire someone for good money who can pull this off and finish the project as fast as possible. And convince you to stay, as the only developer left who knows anything about the project.

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    You always try to give the very best you can, even when you leave and even when they blame you. The benefit may not be obvious in the moment, but chances are, you will see it far down the line. – Captain Emacs Aug 26 '17 at 23:16
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The question you need to ask yourself is, how do you want to finish? As a professional or just rage quit like the tech lead did?

In as much as it counts on you, I'd actually do my best work, and show that despite the Team Lead walking out, you're going to demonstrate that you are excellent and professional at what you do.

The other question is, if you rage quit, or do nothing for three weeks, and your next employer asks for a reference, what do you think they'll say?

I'm not saying ignore what's going on around you, it's never nice being blamed for something. But if someone came to me and said "Why haven't you done this?" and the Tech Lead had walked, I would try to sit the manager down and explain what I've been working on, and what I've had to take on since the lead just up and left. If you can get them to understand how much of a storm you've been left with, they may come round.

It's much better to finish well than to finish badly. To quote Yoda, "Try not! Do, or do not, there is no try..."

And could you live with knowing you didn't give it your all?

Just my opinion though.

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I've had enough of this and handed in my notice recently but I still technically have 3 weeks to go until my notice period ends. Could I just flat-out refuse to do any more work on this project considering that it's pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster?

Sure. You could hold your breath and refuse to do any work you would rather avoid.

I feel like either way I will be blamed for the failure so why waste time working on it.

Professionalism? Personal integrity? Commitment to doing your work to the best of your ability perhaps? How you would look to others who may be able to help your career somewhere down the line perhaps?

You are going to be gone in 3 weeks anyway, does it matter who will be blamed? And if so, would you rather be blamed for a project not completed on time in spite of your best efforts? Or blamed as someone who didn't even bother to try?

Could I be fired for gross misconduct if I refused to work my notice period?

Probably. Depends on your locale. In the US you could.

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