This is more of an ethical dilemma. I am working as a contractor for a state agency. For last few years, the top brass has changed and very arrogant people have stepped in. Their first order of business was to show to everyone that state employees are doing all the work.

This is as far from truth as possible. The state agency where I work, employs several hundred contractors who do the actual work. The state employees have no skills/motivation to do anything. They lack the insight into any technical work.

Recently, a state employee has been asking me for "help" with something she was assigned to do, but does not have the skills to do. This means that I will be doing all the research and prepare written instructions whereas in meetings and e-mails, all the credit will go to her, I am not even invited to these meetings or cc'ed on the e-mails. For all practical purposes, I don't even exist.

Even if I give her written steps to do the work, the complexity of the task is such that I cannot cover every possible combination and when she runs into any problems, she will ask me to resolve the issue while taking credit for it.

My questions are:

Is this normal in contracting because I have never seen it happen to any of my friends who are in contracting. Everyone works as part of team, and no one takes credit for other person's work, be it employee or contractor.

Should I help the employee?

Should I even continue to work with this client?

I asked a friend and he said that since I was a contractor, I should not expect anything. To me, this is unacceptable. Claiming credit for someone else's work is unethical. Any advise will be appreciated.

  • Are you still getting paid as a contractor?
    – Canadian Luke
    May 24 '18 at 16:11

What does the contract that you signed say? If there is anything in there that says "WORK FOR HIRE" then you have given up your rights to the IP that you've created. It means that the hiring entity owns all your work. It does NOT mean that you can't take credit for the work you do within the organization (i.e. internally to peers, bosses and other staff).

It's certainly not ethical for this person to do this. As to "normal" that depends on the organization's culture. If it were me, I'd want to be included in the emails and meetings. How are you billing for this work? I mean if you're freelancing (which it kind of sounds like you are), is this beyond the scope of your contract? If so, you can easily refuse to help her, since you aren't really getting paid to do it.


Unfortunately, as a contractor this is very common and usual. I'd never CC, invite my contractors, give credits to them, no way under any possible scenario. Of course, I'd pay them generally at a rate they're happy with.

You can't get both; you're external to the organization, so you have more freedom than as an employee. You also have less expectation. For returns, you are expected just take the money and walk away. Your hour rate should be higher than a full-time employee.

Sorry, this is how it works.


I've lost count how often others have taken credit for my work. You may need to come to terms with that if you are going to be a freelancer.

As I see it, there's little or nothing to be gained by trying to express to others that someone is falsely taking credit for your work. It ultimately causes you to look petty, aggressive, egomaniacal, and insecure. Even if you are perfectly just in your wanting to expose someone.

It's best to just do what you do and ignore the office politics which may be going on around you. Eventually it'll be discovered that whoever is taking credit can't actually do what they claim they've done.

I'm not meaning to make it sound easy to do this. But, it is the best way I've found to deal with such matters.

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