• Last Updated:
  • May 27th, 2018 9:26 am
May 25, 2018
1 posts


This is the first time I've ran into this in 25+ years.
I'm an IT consultant subcontracted to do a job. The main client is the Government of Canada. An IT resource firm won a bid to supply a consultant to do the work and they in turn issued the work to me.

I was supposed to work on-site with a user account that would allow me to access documents in their document management system. Generally, team introductions allow consultants to know who is who so you can identify who to ask questions about plans, policies, development environments, tools, technologies, etc. so you can start the work. The work requires security clearance which I have. When I showed up for work on the first day, the client gave me three pages to read that concerns work done 6 years ago that relates to what I was supposed to do. They were pretty useless because in IT, especially with the speed at which the industry evolves, it was all but obsolete. The client asked for a road map and a few other items regarding strategy. This would be find but questions need to be answered to produce anything of value. Since I had no team introductions or office, computer, or access to any department documents, he told me to work from home. That wouldn't be a problem but without a VPN account, accessing the necessary documents or team members is all but impossible. Still, he told me we'd have a meeting to discuss the accounts and meet the development team leads. After setting up the meetings, the client canceled approximately 10 meetings (5 time changes in one day and the eventual cancelling). This went on for almost 2 months all the while he was asking for deliverables from me. Without an account, he wanted me to send him deliverables from home. Without a VPN or agency user account, sending documents via Hotmail (or gmail) would most certainly trigger a security breach, so I only sent high level documents. The use of USB keys is strictly forbidden. I had repeatedly asked for a user account and his answer of "I need a red hat on my computer" told me this may have been the first project he was handed responsibility. Needless to say, his insistence that I send him detailed technological and architectural plans and road maps, and to update documents in their document repository (that I needed a legal account for), was creating a huge amount of stress for me.

Since I was this moving into mental abuse from the client, I executed a clause in my contract (with the resource company) that required me to give 10 days notice if I was to leave the contract. I handed in my final invoice, and the resource company refused to pay it because the client wouldn't sign my timesheet. This was an 18 month contract. Significant personal financial injury is on the horizon because I haven't been able to land any new work and they refuse to pay my invoice. Note that I gave up other work because this was an 18 month contract.

My question: Can I only sue the resource company or can I also sue the client for negligence (or breach)?
3 replies
Jun 25, 2011
336 posts
Negligence of what, It seems you were not able to perform work due to limited access provided to you. You can certainly terminate the contract and ask for the reasonable payment
for the amount of time and effort you put in the project. You can only sue who you actually have the contract with which I think in your case is the main IT contractor.
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
3860 posts
^ good advice.

What does your contract with the IT consulting firm say? If you were to be paid for hours worked, then you have a solid case to be paid in full. You can demand payment, or take them to small claims court if they fail to pay. It's unlikely that the signature of the government client on the timesheet matters except as one piece of evidence regarding whether the claimed hours of work were done or not. If the IT company doesn't like the quality of your work, then their remedy would be to terminate your contract properly, not to refuse payment.

But it's always good to stop and think about reputation in a case like this. You say you haven't been able to find any new work - that implies a tight market for your particular skills. Do you want to get a reputation for being difficult to work with? "Oh yeah, I know that guy - he couldn't do the work, the client was dissatisfied, then he quit without warning and threatened to sue us for payment after the client wouldn't pay!". That's not to say that you shouldn't pursue it if you feel you have a strong case. Maybe it's that IT consulting company that doesn't have a good reputation for paying contractors. But consider the possible repercussions before acting.
Deal Expert
May 30, 2005
41970 posts
Richmond Hill
I agree with the others that you have no recourse with the client, but only with your direct contracting company that hired you. Whether or not they are able to get money from their client is really irrelevant to whether they need to pay you.

Off topic but, what does "I need a red hat on my computer" mean? The only reference I can think of is to the OS, but that doesn't really make sense to me.
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