How to Handle Unethical Client Requests

Last Updated: Dec 9, 2016
What should you do when your clent or boss asks you to do somethng that’s llegal or unethcal? Here’s what to do and .

Have you ever been asked by an employer or project clent to do somethng that seems odd or possbly even llegal? have. And ’ve worked wth project managers and techncal support personnel who have as well. As consultants and professonals, we need to mantan the hghest level of ntegrty as we are servng our clents and our employers. That doesn’t always mean just gong along wth whatever they ask of us. Sometmes t means dong just the opposte…runnng away.

n the ven of project and consultng best practces, ’d lke to dscuss how to handle those stuatons where the project, the customer, the request, or the busness opportunty seems wrong or just too good to be true. Thnk twce before movng forward wth your head down.

Consultng 101 Seres:

f t smells sour, t s sour. Ths s an easy one, but temptaton can be hard to gnore. f the mlk smells wrong, no matter how bad you want to drnk t the te wll stll be horrble. Don’t do t. You can’t take somethng bad and make t good. A bad project clent s a bad project clent. A hrng organzaton that seems lke they may be dong somethng crmnal probably s dong somethng crmnal. Trust your gut. You could be wrong. But who’s gong to help you f you aren’t wrong yet you proceed?

f you see warnng sgns lke clents askng you to fll out lablty documents that you’ve never had to fll out before, or askng you for fnancal nformaton that doesn’t seem to ft the purpose or askng you to do somethng on ther behalf that makes you want to run 100 mph n the other drecton, don’t go through wth t. For every bad clent or bad project, there are 100 more out there that are good. t’s not worth the career and reputaton rsk – no matter what the prce.

f you are dong wrong, know that you wll get caught. What percent of wrongdoers do you really thnk evade the long arm of the law? They may get away wth somethng for a whle, but most eventually pay the prce. would guess that number to be 95-98%. Do you thnk you’re smart enough and stealthy enough and slmy enough to fnd yourself lvng the hgh lfe (and on the run forever) n that top 2-5%? Probably not. And that prce you wll end up payng s never gong to get your reputaton back, your old lfe back, and your felony convcton fully (and ’m mean FULLY) erased. You wll suffer, your career or busness wll tank, and most of all your fly wll suffer.

Be selfsh – protect your career and fly. f your employer asks you to do somethng for a project that you are concerned may be llegal, pause. Lkewse, f you are actng as an employee or consultant and a project clent asks you to do somethng that seems to contradct good, legal practces for dong busness, pause. Consder the stuaton and consder the consequences. Be selfsh – thnk about what t mght do to your fly.

know an ndvdual who recently went to jal for a number of years for contnung busness wth and for an organzaton conductng llegal and fraudulent practces. t doesn’t matter whether he knowngly dd ths or was just duped, that’s not my area to judge. The bottom lne s ths – hs fly has been put n perl and he’s locked away for months or possbly years. Put yourself n that poston. You don’t want to go there.


When we are consultng for our clents, we have a responsblty to act to the best of our ablty on ther behalf. We want ther repeat busness and that often happens f we make them happy. But makng them happy, satsfed customers should not come at the prce of our consultng practce, our employment, our fly or our freedom. Be aware of every next you take. People are sometmes thnkng of ther own monetary gan and they don’t care who or what they take down wth them. t could be you and your project career or consultng practce. Be aware.

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Brad Egeland s a Busness Soluton Desgner and T/PM consultant and author of A Real World Project Manager’s Guide to the Successful Project. He has over 25 years of software development, , and project experence leadng ntatves n Manufacturng, Government Contractng, Creatve Desgn, Gng and Hosptalty, Retal Operatons, Avaton and Arlne, Pharmaceutcal, Start-ups, Healthcare, , Non-proft, Hgh-Tech, Engneerng and general T. Brad s marred, a father of 11, and lvng n sunny Las Vegas, NV. Vst Brad’s ste at