Right to work?

Been a while since I last posted. Here is the situation:

  1. 2 years ago, I was a designer working on widgets. These widgets (like car design) are pretty specific.
  2. Left the company to pursue a career in completely different field of design, but was released a few months ago.
  3. For the past few months, have been doing unrelated (read: web design) work for another company making same widgets.
  4. Original company offers me my old position back designing widgets, with a lot more pay and better environment. I gladly accept since I don’t actually have a full-time job and would like to design widgets again.
  5. Other company is pissed and calls me unethical for being courted by original company. Professional courtesy says you don’t share “secrets.”

Why am I being unethical? True, I’ve pigeon-holed myself into being a good designer of said widgets, but what am I supposed to do? completely abandon the profession that I’m actually good at? Car designers don’t do this! A designer doesn’t leave Nissan and then have everyone mad at them for going to Toyota, do they?

At the same time, I was being contacted by a major company about beinga senior designer for them, so it’s not like I was being desperate and knocking on very widget-makers door. Remember, the original company contacted ME, not me contacting them. Kinda hard to turn down a good job offer too, when the possibility of a job at the other widget company was only a possibility.

I keep telling myself I didnt’ do anything wrong, but did I?

If you said you were doing web design work for widget co.2 and not actually designing widgets and then you go back to co.1 actually designing, I don’t think you should have much of a problem. Double check your contract. Were you exposed to “top secret” stuff from co.2 that you may unintentionally use as part of your knowledge base while designing widgets for co.1?

Actually, there was no contract. I was just working on a month to month basis doing website work. No designing widgets. As for classified information, there is nothing here to speak of. Co.1 was far more advanced in that regard.

The only thing I’ve done is expand my knowledge base and increase my skill-set. Haven’t actually learned anything.

I wouldn’t put too much thought into it. If Company 2 had been worried about you keeping secrets, they should have had you sign an NDA. Usually they’ll put a non-compete clause in this as well.

I think they’re more pissed about losing their web designer. Try to smooth things over a little, but not too much. Just enough to not get a reputation among widget makers.


Agree with JWK, co 2 is just grumpy, if they had something in writing I would concerned, but as it was informal, you aren’t doing anything unethical or against professional courtesy- if they are serious tell them to make a better offer.

Wouldn’t let it slow you down, sounds like they are just throwing some guilt around, if they really felt that strongly they should have matched the offer and given you a better spot.

Thanks guys. That’s pretty much the conclusion I’ve come too. They acted unprofessionally by calling me unethical. There was no reason for slander. Keeping me from working in the field would be unethical, since that’s what my experience is in. And as mentioned above, all I did was web work, and that’s not my profession. Just a side project to weather the storm of unemployment.

Seeing how all of this unfolded reaffirms my decision to go with company #1. They’re acting out like when you dump a girlfriend for another girl.

nothing wrong with what you did.

NDAs are just commom sense. NCA are not typically legal in a court of law. a company cannot keep you from being gainfully employed. it is more of a scare tactic than a legal, binding agreement. if you violate the NDA, THEN they can come after you and the company you work for. in that instance, your integrity would be on the line.

Nope, nothing was ever signed by me or them. So I have nothing to fear legally. Just don’t like my name being dragged through the mud, especially since I won’t be able to defend myself. I guess that’s just the way it goes though.

I know I did everything ethically and in the end, the only person I have to answer to is myself and God. For instance, at no time have I ever had both company’s computer files on my computer at the same time. once I started working for #2, I promptly deleted everything and send #1 their files back. And I have proof of doing so too.

Still, being personally attacked like that really, really hurts.

maybe a letter reminding them that it is illegal for them to say anything derrogutory or unproven about you should someone call them for a reference.

sounds pretty straight forward that your in the clear without knowing more the details and the contract terms.

without a non-compete you are free to work where you like. i’d suggest to just have a chat with co. #2 to explain that there is no hard feelings, that you arent taking any secrets (or know any) and that you follow ethical practices and good judgement in any job or position you might be in.

if they keep bitchin, you might want to make a casual reference to the fact that you were at company #1 first, and they weren’t upset that you went to a competitor (co. #2). Also good to mention that the scope of work (web) was different than what you will be doing back at co. #1.

no need for lawyers or nasty letters. small widget industries like your are too small to burn bridges.


NICELY put, fellas. Thank you so much for your advice on this matter. Very, very helpful!

gotta love this crazy widget industry!! I’m actually a common poster on this forum but under a different alias. Trying to keep this thread under the radar!

OoOo! that would be an interesting letter!