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Thread: Ethics issues-a couple of questions

  1. #1
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    Ethics issues-a couple of questions

    I am hoping to get some advice and thoughts. I'll try to make this brief:

    Planner friend: Laid off (as of March)- decides to open own firm. Asks me, who is employed in private sector planning firm, to be partner. I would like to but am waiting for hubby to get permanent job instead of being IT contractor. I am not happy where I am and am pretty disappointed with the firm.

    Questions:

    1. Can my planner friend pursue any jobs before the March xx, 2009 final lay off date?
    2. How do I make transition from one firm to another. I do have this long non-compete clause that I signed with current employer; however, the job has not panned out the way I hoped and they've cut my hours to about 30/week. Is it ethical to ask them to release me from that?
    3. What can I do to help my planner friend get started without breaking ethics. Both of us want to be ethical and above-board in all things. The field of planning my planner friend is not the field of planning that I am in (I'm very specialized).

    All the basics are being done--business plan, incorporation (although my name will not be on the incorporation papers yet), etc etc.

    Any thoughts and suggestions would be very much appreciated. And yes, we are both AICP.

    thanks so much for bearing with me here.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    If your friend is still employed, I would say they should hold off pursuing jobs. However they could start sending out marketing info.

    Have no idea what your non-compete clause might say. Read it in detail, but if you're highly specialized and won't be donig the same planning, you might have a good argument.

    I heard something along time ago about ethics - If it got in the newspaper, would you be embarassed by what you did.

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  3. #3
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I was talking to the City Attorney last week about ethics & disclosure and he brought up the point, "If you have to ask if something is unethical, you probably know it is otherwise you wouldn't ask."
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bella View post
    1. Can my planner friend pursue any jobs before the March xx, 2009 final lay off date?
    2. How do I make transition from one firm to another. I do have this long non-compete clause that I signed with current employer; however, the job has not panned out the way I hoped and they've cut my hours to about 30/week. Is it ethical to ask them to release me from that?
    3. What can I do to help my planner friend get started without breaking ethics. Both of us want to be ethical and above-board in all things. The field of planning my planner friend is not the field of planning that I am in (I'm very specialized).
    Here's my thoughts, based on my experiences.

    1. Planner friend is allowed to moonlight, if the current employer does not have a policy against such a thing. Friend needs to talk to his supervisor and get the policy in writing. In either case, since you mentioned he's AICP, it's a violation of AICP ethics to start working in his agency's jurisdiction until at least one year has lapsed. I don't know how that works here if Friend is leaving a private firm.
    2. There is no issue discussing any of your terms when leaving, as long as you leave ethically and professionally. What you don't want to do is be confrontational, as that could lead to you leaving on their terms, not yours.
    3. Get the up-to-date AICP code of ethics and start from there.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    My sister, the doctor, has had to get out of non-compete clauses (otherwise not work in her home SMSA for five years). Talk to a good attorney (not that muni lawyers aren;t good...).

    HTH

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    1. There is nothing wrong with your friend pursuing contract work before his/her layoff goes into effect. They need to be thinking about their career and their income. It is no different than if they were applying for another job right now.

    2. Your non-compete clause is going to have language in it that governs what you can and can't do. Is supect that regardless of what it says, an attorney would argue that since it was a part of your employment agreement, and your employer has changed that agreement by reducing your hours and pay, they are obliged to release you from the agreement. It may get contested, but that is probably the basic argument.

    3. Starting a business requires an amazing amount of work: building mailing lists, putting together marketing materials, designing a web site, all of the legal and administrative work, etc. Then there is actually beginning to market your services. You can be doing all of this right now.

    4. You've got guts to leave a job right now to start your own firm. The number of projects available to consultants has dropped to a fraction of what it used to be. There are well-established firms that are struggling, and everytime you put in a bid there is strong competition. Be very harsh in your financial projections. Take your expected costs and double them. Take your expected revenue and halve it. If you can still live with the results, then you might consider it.
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  7. #7
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Ethics -- schmethics. Provided you're not planting 8 fertile embryos in a woman who already has 6 children, I think you can do anything. At least in this cut-throat economy.

  8. #8
    Its always better to plan ahead. Even with non-compete clauses, many firms are reluctant to go through the effort to enforce them and judges are reluctant to force anyone to be unemployed.

    However, it would be unethical to try to take clients away from your current employer and would be hard to defend.

  9. #9
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    First, what's legal - Then, what's ethical

    First things first. Have you attorney look at your contract and the non-compete clause. If there is a hole in it he/she should be able to find it. Also, how have other departing coworkers been treated? Have they been held to the contract or not? This should give you an idea of how you will be treated by your firm. Also, has you employer, through the reduction of your hours, violated any provision of the contract or non-compete clause?

    As for asking them for a release from your contract, thatís iffy. Once you ask for the release then they know you want to or are going to leave and then the whole dynamics of the relationship will change. You know how your firm treats people. That should give you a reasonably good indication of the reaction you will receive.

    As for helping your friend, find a way to shield yourself legally. Again your attorney should be able to help you here.

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