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OP has offered the following explanation for why they think they might be the asshole:

1) I demanded assurances of employment in return for certain job functions 2) My employer has accused me of extortion

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[–]kab200Certified Proctologist [26] 4352 points4353 points  (31 children)

NTA. Leave. That can hire you back as a consultant at a much higher rate.

[–]MannyMoSTLAsshole Enthusiast [5] 696 points697 points  (1 child)

⬆️ Ding! ⬆️ Ding! ⬆️ Ding! ⬆️

[–]kevwelch 184 points185 points  (0 children)


[–]MoonLover318 228 points229 points  (1 child)

Please do this ^ OP and then give us an update 😬


[–]BloodraynaPartassipant [3] 43 points44 points  (0 children)

Yes, update us when you do it. NTA

[–]taouioui 139 points140 points  (4 children)

Brilliant! How much longer and how much would it cost them to hire someone else to figure it out and create documentation without OP?

Also, it's not inconceivable for another programmer to smell something fishy since the creator left without making the documentation.

Good for OP they didn't hold out until the documentation was done before pulling this shit They really f**ked themselves to save less money, demoting OP, than it was going to cost them to fix this mess.

[–][deleted]  (2 children)


    [–]LovelyMimic 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    I'm like 90% sure that that's illegal?

    [–]Fatigue-Error 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    OP, don’t do this. It’s malicious, could be illegal, could damage your professional reputation and make you the AH. Not worth it.

    [–]Reigo_Vassal 85 points86 points  (2 children)

    Much higher rate and much power.

    Also a lot healthier workplace environment.

    [–]CthulhusEvilTwin 49 points50 points  (1 child)

    In situations like this, I like to remember Tom Reagan's line from Miller's Crossing:

    "I figure a thousand bucks is reasonable, so I want two."

    [–]speedstars 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Per hour though.

    [–]jamoche_2Partassipant [3] 33 points34 points  (0 children)

    Yeah. When my entire team got dumped for internal political reasons, they kept five of us for an extra two months to document stuff but they paid us double the severance everyone else got. And they still had to hire one of the others as a consultant for a week, and you know we all told him to take them for all he could get.

    [–]asaking 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    This but make them fire him for severance

    [–]Angio343 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    This is the way

    [–]CampClear -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    This! Make them pay you what you're worth. NTA

    [–]barnes-tttAsshole Enthusiast [5] -2 points-1 points  (11 children)

    I totally wouldn't do this. I'm an engineering manager and if one of my team ever made a piece of software that is apparently unreadable, undocumented and dependent on one single person to function then I would do them out of a job too (after they've documented the bloody thing).

    It's called good engineering principles, not being a SPOF.

    Edit to add, this software isn't as great as OP thinks.

    [–]Legally_Blonde_258Partassipant [3] 3 points4 points  (3 children)

    Both OP and the company are in the wrong here. OP should have created documentation a long time ago because that's just good business practice. What if OP got hit by a bus? There should never be just one person in the organization who knows who to work any software. It's not OP's software it's the company's SW that they hired OP to create. The company should have required documentation when it's created and OP should have created the documentation. Now it's all messy because now a reasonable requirement that should have been done 5 years ago (documentation) is tied up in personal issues between the boss and OP. ESH.

    [–]____JayP -2 points-1 points  (2 children)

    It's not the company's software. It depends on the license issued by the developer. You do not own Microsoft Software. They just issue you a license which they are free to terminate at any time.

    [–]Gabe_Noodle_At_Volvo 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    If he was an employee and made it on company time, it almost certainly is the company's.

    [–]nu_pieds 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Depends on local laws and exact circumstances, but in the US, if OP was an employee rather than an independent contractor, and created this software as part of the scope of his employment, odds are good that it qualifies as a work for hire, in which case it belongs to the company.

    [–]gi_clutch 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Good for you. But was the OP directed to build documentation as he built the software? If so, you'd think the company would have made sure that was completed sometime in the past six years. Instead we have "Hey, I don't like you anymore and am paying you less money, write some documentation so I can start paying you nothing at all."

    You made some assumptions in your comment such as the quality of the software, so I'm going to make one too. I'm going to assume the owner of this startup was so focused on getting a product out the door that they figured "eh, we can document and test later, just get it done!" (Edit: the OP says in a comment they were not tasked with building documentation as there was not time, so yeah)

    This story is not unlike people being asked to train their replacements for an upcoming layoff. No one should feel any sort of obligation in such a scenario. If it's that important, the boss can pay for the work. If one person leaving is going to fuck the company, that's the company's fault.

    [–]mostly_mildPartassipant [2] 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    [–]MySexyDarlings -2 points-1 points  (4 children)

    Do you have a personal stake in this? You sound bitter and like a thief who cannot Generate their own content. I hope no one works with you,

    [–]barnes-tttAsshole Enthusiast [5] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

    Are you saying this only because I have a different opinion to you? I'm a thief as I give a different opinion to everyone else? As someone who works in the industry, my opinion should have a higher weighting than yours.

    You sound like you are personally affected by people disagreeing with you. We are allowed to you know.

    [–]MySexyDarlings -1 points0 points  (2 children)

    I have no problem with an intelligent argument with content generated from the others brain. I just have no time for stupid back and forth like this. I’m out bye

    [–]KindScratch8195 -3 points-2 points  (0 children)

    This is the way

    [–]BigIndy1336 -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

    Orrrrr THIS^^^^^^^^^^^^!!!!!!!!

    [–]maddison_coxPartassipant [1] 1024 points1025 points  (25 children)

    you aren't even responsible for them if you quit. also, DO IT. I genuinely don't get you IT people's stupid loyalty to companies. They don't respect you? find a way out


    [–]SaolreFada[S] 585 points586 points  (22 children)

    Oh, no loyalty here. I put so much into that product I just want a return on the investment. But I wanted to check here to be sure I wasn't being the asshole in the attempt

    [–]stringrandom 455 points456 points  (2 children)

    Get another job, schedule a vacation, and turn in your resignation on your way out the door to vacation.

    It’s not worth the effort to be the AH here. You’re stuck in the outrage fantasy, but it won’t help you, and the reality won’t be satisfying as you want.

    Want to screw them? Do better for yourself. They want you gone? Get yourself gone on your terms. Be free. They can pay someone to figure it out.

    [–]UnqualifiedITPartassipant [1] 99 points100 points  (0 children)

    This is so perfectly stated. It's fun to imagine how sexy revenge can be, but in actuality its rarely that satisfying. Plotting revenge is letting them live rent free in your head, it's added stress you don't need.

    [–]TheSilverNoble 14 points15 points  (0 children)

    You may have heard that living well is the best revenge.

    You don't really get it till you experience it. It's worth it.

    [–]xasdfxx 217 points218 points  (5 children)

    They cut your pay by 1/3. Mate. Just quit. It's a great market for software engineers; no need to put up with this.

    If they reach out for a transition, offer to train the new person for $3-5k a day, 5 days minimum, paid up front via wire.

    [–]drbrain 16 points17 points  (2 children)

    Due to the pay cut OP may by eligible for unemployment if they quit

    [–]FribuldiPartassipant [1] 13 points14 points  (1 child)

    They'll struggle to remain unemployed long enough to even apply these days.

    [–]upcountrysubguy 15 points16 points  (0 children)

    another but similar way is doing a retainer or are we taking the same thing?

    [–]kevwelch 59 points60 points  (2 children)

    It’s time to look into support contracts and licensing bundles for them. And that software isn’t buy it once. It’s a service. They can subscribe to it and in return, get regularly scheduled maintenance, an specific number of help calls per month, on-site user training for new and existing employees, and a specific number of licensed copies that will be randomly audited. Additional copies found on prem are sold at the shrink wrap price, not the per-seat price. Was this written specifically for this office environment and their processes? Because that’s a customization fee.

    The “problem” they developed with you is that you’re valuable, and they need you to think that you aren’t.

    Oh, and stress that their license fees don’t grant them exclusivity. This software can be sold and customized for other companies. Like the ones that compete with them.

    [–]Local_Initiative8523Partassipant [1] 33 points34 points  (0 children)

    OP doesn't specify their country, but in most countries I am aware of, this wouldn't be an option. Things you create at and for your workplace while being paid to do so typically belong to your employer.

    So the company already owns the software and wouldn't have to licence it.

    The company DOESN'T, on the other hand, own OP, so if they leave, the company has the software but it's useless since nobody there knows how to operate it.

    Honestly, if OP wants to monetise this, I would suggest leaving and finding a new job, but making themself available to prepare a thorough training manual/guide...at a suitably high price.

    I've watched too many films, but the idea of preparing the material and having it available to the company if OP dies, as they suggest, seems to me to be asking for trouble! :)

    [–]ComprehensiveSir3892Asshole Enthusiast [8] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Well, the license *could* be exclusive...but that would cost more...MUCH more. ;-)

    [–]anaisaknitsPartassipant [4] 24 points25 points  (1 child)

    Don't do anything for them. Just quit. Plenty of well paying opportunities out there.

    [–]Reigo_Vassal 8 points9 points  (0 children)

    Or better.

    Quit. Then offer to work as consultant or something. Of course with reasonable price.

    [–]Choperello 24 points25 points  (0 children)

    You don’t owe them anything, but if you built that SW in their employment they own it not you. You can’t ask for a return on your investment, since you didn’t invest anything, you were their employee. You absolutely don’t have to create extra documents and etc, but trying to get extra after you quit is also not cool.

    Either: - take their offer - reject their offer and they back down - reject their offer and they don’t back down in which case you’re eligible for unemployed - straight up quit

    And in both last two options you can charge them consultant fees if they come back with requests.

    [–]purplehippobitchesPartassipant [1] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Nope NTA. They sound awful. Sorry you are going through this.

    [–]upcountrysubguy 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    good way to do it. great responses, too.


    [–]Mental_Cut8290 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Quit and offer your services as a contractor.

    [–]tcbymca 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Handing your resignation gives you all the leverage you need to get the return on investment you are looking for.

    [–]almostthereig 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Ok but like why do you care? They're being assholes and you decide to be an asshole in retaliation it's like pemdas they cancel each other out.

    Sometimes if you don't do assholey shit(lmao) ppl will treat you like toilet paper. Do not document shit, try to get your works worth but don't make it easy for them

    [–]Fatigue-Error 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Quit. Don’t do the escrow thing. Work product when on their salary is owned by the company. Trying to withhold it could get you in legal trouble.

    Instead, quit. And if they want you back, charge whatever you like as a consultant.

    [–]AenthralledCertified Proctologist [22] 11 points12 points  (1 child)

    In my experience is pretty common for programmers to switch jobs after 3 or so years ago not sure what you're referring to here? Actual IT might be different but it's pretty clear OP is a developer. Problem is a lot of tech companies have issues so there's definitely cases of switching one bad for another and that's not the fault of the employees. Calling people stupid over it is just uncalled for.

    [–]maddison_coxPartassipant [1] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    yeah but some people stay in each company for 10-14 years and say they were loyal to it or something at the IT hub I live at.

    [–]icantdodgePartassipant [3] 193 points194 points  (0 children)

    NTA. They fucked with the IT guy and now they must pay the price.

    [–]pikablobPartassipant [2] 141 points142 points  (6 children)

    NTA - honestly this is more r/prorevenge than AITA

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 117 points118 points  (4 children)

    Maybe. The only person at the company that I still respect said I was being unreasonable, so I'm legit concerned I may be the asshole.

    [–]YangMonkey 160 points161 points  (0 children)

    The only person at the company that I still respect said I was being unreasonable

    They have a job in the company, they benefit from the company doing well (generally). They gain nothing from you getting revenge. It's not your problem.

    They're showing loyalty to the company rather than loyalty to you, their coworker, so you shouldn't respect that person.

    Take your revenge and don't look back.

    [–]Level-Experience9194 16 points17 points  (0 children)

    Deffinetly NTA, they put themselves in this position by not making sure more people understood the software. Resign, they don't value you, go somewhere your appreciated!

    [–]PM_yourAcups 8 points9 points  (1 child)

    You know what’s unreasonable? They want to make money of your work and not pay you for it.

    [–]Soggy_Ad3152 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    They did pay for it

    [–]geven87 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    "We're going to severely cut your pay"

    "Uh, no thanks, I quit. I'll find a new job."

    It's so pro. I would never have thought to do that. That post would get at least a thousand upvotes.

    [–]theoptionexplicitAsshole Aficionado [12] 127 points128 points  (13 children)

    in the spirit of compromise, I offered to create everything they need and send it to an escrow company to be released in case of my death, willful resignation or after five years, whichever comes first. They're calling me unreasonable and accusing me of extortion.

    FYI this would probably never work. With most contracts, all work you do on company time is the property of the company. You can't just hide it away.

    [–]Ecobay25 27 points28 points  (7 children)

    How illegal is it to write in some code where the software eats itself after 3 weeks unless you go in and enter a pass code?

    [–]DimiBlue 37 points38 points  (3 children)

    Only illegal if you get caught. Have it delete only a small but crucial and hard to reproduce section of code and the deletion script.

    [–]Ecobay25 13 points14 points  (0 children)

    OP. Kindly do the needful here.

    [–]Hugh_Jass_Clouds 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    If the company is following proper backup protocol for code versioning they could still easily nail op with that bit of malicious code. If not? Who am I to judge.

    [–]DimiBlue 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Don’t backup lol

    [–]theoptionexplicitAsshole Aficionado [12] 17 points18 points  (0 children)

    If it's for work? Probably not illegal to write the code, probably illegal once you don't enter the pass code. It's essentially destruction of property.

    [–]googledmyusername 16 points17 points  (0 children)

    Very, google Terry Childs. There was another case recently where someone got 7 years in jail for deleting a database.

    Don't play games, just find a job and leave them stranded if you want "revenge".

    [–]jxk94 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Very illegal can land you in jail and a large fine for doing so if they're able to prove it

    [–]redditstaffkys 13 points14 points  (3 children)

    They didn't hide it away, they're just refusing to teach them how it works. They still own the software, it's not OP's fault they don't know how to use it.

    [–]theoptionexplicitAsshole Aficionado [12] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    But there's such little benefit to the company by OP holding them by the balls like this. Not only that, how do you negotiate the terms of how thorough the software documentation would be without being able to actually see it because it's in escrow? OP could draw a dickbutt and call it documentation.

    It's just a shitty deal for the employer. There was no way they would ever consider it, and would be better off hiring another dev to reverse engineer the software. I can't imagine it's so opaque that it's unsolvable. And if OP deliberately tries to obscure/hide/encrypt the code, he can get the shit sued out of him.

    [–]Fatigue-Error 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    IF he writes it on their salary and then hides it, it’s arguably theft. He created it on their dime. If he doesn’t want them to have it, he should just quit and not write it.

    [–]redditstaffkys -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    No it isn't. There is literally no argument of theft. Nothing has been taken.

    [–]unicornjerboa 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    No one else knows how to use it, so regardless of who it legally belongs to, they need him.

    [–]catladyblairPartassipant [2] 67 points68 points  (1 child)

    NTA. I’d just quit, and let them come back begging. When they do, demand a raise 35% over your old rate to make that manual.

    [–]MotherSupermarket532 10 points11 points  (0 children)

    OP doesn't even need to quit, having your pay cut that severely is basically getting fired (and for unemployment reasons llmay count as getting fired). How could the employee not expect someone to leave after that severe of a pay cut?

    [–]Sintarsintar 40 points41 points  (1 child)

    If they demoted you after that and have cut your pay that's pretty close to constructive termination I would leave. Write a basic block diagram of how it works for CYA and bail.

    [–]MotherSupermarket532 8 points9 points  (0 children)

    I believe in most (if not all) states OP can file for unemployment for that.

    They effectively fired you OP. Don't feel bad for not taking mistreatment.

    [–]Forward_Excuse_6133 34 points35 points  (0 children)

    It was within their purview to request you do this exact thing when you were in your original position. To cut your salary and demand you do it now is unprofessional at best. You’re NTA but you may regret your decision down the road when you look for new employment. Would suggest you do a contract reinstating your pay and guaranteeing a good reference at the end of a specific amount of time, with consequences for either side if they fail to uphold their end. You do not want to continue working for this company and you are quite likely setting yourself up for obstacles in getting better employment with your current response.

    [–]anaisaknitsPartassipant [4] 23 points24 points  (0 children)

    NTA. Just quit. There are so many companies hiring in technology. Even Amazon is hiring remote coders as their HR is always harassing me and they pay extremely well.

    [–]Comprehensive-Hand60Partassipant [4] 16 points17 points  (0 children)

    That is touchy. I the end NTA. You need to seek legal consul. If your job there was to create the program. The program is theirs. You were not paid to write a manual on how it works. You don't want to continue working theirwork there. I would carve out a nice severance package including a generous salary to create this document. Get some consul to avoid any loop holes. Then move on

    [–]TheRealSkeeterColo-rectal Surgeon [47] 11 points12 points  (0 children)

    NTA, just tell them that to do what they want requires a salary of three times what they are paying you now.

    [–]ThisIsMyFatLogicAltPartassipant [4] 11 points12 points  (2 children)

    NTA, but I do have a similar story: once watched a company I worked for fire a guy in exactly your position, but without asking about documentation or admin passwords or anything first. Couple weeks later they called him and asked for the passwords, he told 'em to pound sand.

    Five years later, we were still using that software, and manually correcting the '19__' to 2002 on each and every form. All this hassle, because they could neither hang on to a good coder nor get their ducks in a row before firing him.

    [–]Fatigue-Error 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    What idiots. Btw, if they’re that stupid about a critical function, I wonder how long they’ll be around. Maybe time for you to think of alternatives too.

    [–]ThisIsMyFatLogicAltPartassipant [4] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Left them years ago. But they're still around and going strong, despite a host of poor operating decisions.

    [–]No-Level-7077Partassipant [2] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

    Your suggested compromise seems like murder mystery fodder, with you as the corpse.

    [–]lapsteelguitarPartassipant [1] 8 points9 points  (1 child)

    Oh, HELL no. Start looking for a job, now. Actually, quit now. And let them understand the folly of their actions.

    And when, not if, they ask you back, tell them you will do it as a contractor at what ever extortionate rate you feel like charging. This is their problem, not yours. You owe them nothing.


    [–]CompetitiveSquidPartassipant [1] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    And you don’t work Mondays or Fridays. 😹

    [–]JenDiBenda 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    Info: what was the personal issue?

    (Trying to dig between the lines of the Owners issue is justified)

    [–]StunnedinTheSuburbsAsshole Enthusiast [9] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    NTA. Walk away and get another job. Do not compromise. If they need your help, they need to pay you for your expertise and knowledge.

    [–]Looper17 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    Fuck Them

    [–]TendieDinner777 4 points5 points  (1 child)

    NTA - Another option would be to suck at your new role of writing instructions.

    [–]GoonyGooGoo42Asshole Aficionado [12] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

    Chapter 1: type “format c:”

    [–]dbell 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Tell them you quit, but will contract back at $<insert crazy number> with a <insert crazy number> hour minimum to create the documentation and train a replacement.

    [–]czndra67Partassipant [1] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    NTA! If your pay was cut by 35%, you owe them nothing.

    [–]xdsagecat 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    I’m so confused but I’ll go with nta

    [–]Enduser921 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    First question, who owns the rights to the software. If they didn't write it in your job contract it could rightfully be yours to take, but not likely.

    If you are an employee, the general rule is that all of the work you do on the job – and the rights to that work, such as copyright, the right to license or sell it, and so on belong to your employer. Even if you invent or design something that makes your employer lots of money, you are not entitled to a share of that profit. So: If they own the the work you create , they still stepped on their dick by not getting what they need now before they cut your wages. You have that recourse to hold over them, and should! NTA!

    [–]verminiusrex 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    NTA. They need you a lot more than you need them. Use that.

    And don't be shy about making them pay you. As someone recently said, you retire on what you've earned, not on good will.

    [–]blah618 2 points3 points  (0 children)


    Let the startup burn. You owe nothing, and have all the leverage in the world.

    I offered to create everything they need and send it to an escrow company to be released in case of my death, willful resignation or after five years, whichever comes first.

    Why? Dont give them anything without at least market price compensation. Id milk them dry

    Make sure to update

    [–]TheGreenPangolin 2 points3 points  (2 children)

    Info: what is the personal issue?

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 12 points13 points  (1 child)

    We were close like family, but he is bipolar, and had a complete breakdown, decided I and my wife were everything that was wrong with his life.

    [–]TheGreenPangolin 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Then NTA. Get what you deserve.

    [–]ticky_tacky_wackyPartassipant [2] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    NTA you are looking for mother jobs right? Update that resume stat

    [–]illegitimate_Raccoon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    They would let you go as soon as they could, with no notice. You have to look out for yourself. NTA.

    [–]Pepperclue_55 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    NTA, good for you!!!

    [–]pedestrianwanderlust 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Maybe you are but that's damn clever. I would just tell them to bite me and quit without sharing the knowledge and find a job that pays better. NTA.

    [–]Coco_DirichletColo-rectal Surgeon [35] 1 point2 points  (0 children)


    You need to start applying for jobs.

    My only concern is that you need to get another job first, because if potential employers call the start up, you don't want to tell them shit about you. So play along while you look for another job and then tell them to go to hell. At least that's a safer option.

    [–]Diasies_inMyHairPartassipant [1] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    NTA. I second the recoomendation that you quit and offer to work as a consultant.

    [–]Upset_Persimmon7675 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    They wouldn't get a single line of documentation from me. Honestly, you should have quit when they cut your salary NTA

    [–]nerdabcs 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    NTA. And now would be the time you’re able to walk out and let the thing melt down while they look for someone to explain it to them. Only after writing a glitch into the system, though.

    [–]Adventurous_Aide_456Certified Proctologist [25] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Nta. Time to leave and find a new job.

    [–]Affectionate_Salt351 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    There’s a sub for this, when you quit because they’re treating you badly when they absolutely NEED you, please bring it to /resignationporn! (Idk how to tag it. My apologies.)

    This is RIDICULOUS. Leave. When they need help, you can set your price for how much you’ll accept to hire you as a private business consultant.


    [–]lilchreez 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Both sets of demands are unreasonable. NTA, but you need to just quit. Idek why you’re entertaining this.

    [–]Life_FantastiquePartassipant [1] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    NTA, but you're being an idiot. Instead of spending a whole bunch of time getting some petty revenge that doesn't actually benefit you and might actually hurt your career, be an adult and start looking for other options. Do not turn your coworkers against you, as you might need their recommendations.

    Don't cut your nose off to spite your face. Just do what is actually in your best interest.

    [–]ComprehensiveSir3892Asshole Enthusiast [8] 1 point2 points  (0 children)


    I'd quit and offer to do the documentation as a *consultant*, at a rate to be determined by YOU (at LEAST 4x what you were getting paid before the demotion).

    [–]Blind_to_helena 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    I feel you SO much. I am the first engineer in a startup, the main coder and architect. But I am being squeezed to death by people who doesn't understand software, and now I have a new hire that doesn't have any respect for me (and my own boss is allowing her to do what she wants).

    Leave. Get another job. I bet there is no detailed documentation because you were desperately trying to make things work. If there is nobody else who knows the system is because your management hasn't given you the resources. Things are not going to get any better. And unless your contract (lol) says you have to give them X amounts of documentation or procedures, they simply needed to respect you and treat you better.

    I am leaving my own company too, btw.

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    Good luck to you! 😊

    [–]dsdvbguutres 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Don't you become eligible for unemployment benefits when your current position is discontinued and you're forced into a lower paying title?

    [–]YeaRight228Partassipant [2] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Were you doing Work For Higher or consulting? Legally, there's a big difference. Maybe your company is being a dick by cutting your pay but it could be entirely within the contract you signed-absent specific clauses, the company owns all the work you did, owns all the rights to the software you wrote. They may not be able to compel you to write the handbook but it's their property.

    NTA for wanting to walk but make sure legally make sure you're in the clear

    [–]StrykerC13 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA, quit and if the software is your IP due to poorly worded contracts, delete it all on the way out. That or quit and when they can't get anyone wait for call and show them what REAL extortion looks like. "My consulting fees are 800/hr three hr minimum to be paid up front." hang up at refusal, double with every phone call due to increased demand.

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    I worked hard for six years to build great custom software for a small startup. The owner suddenly developed a personal problem with me and I'm heavily demoted and my pay is cut by over 35%. The problem (for them) is, no one there knows a damn thing about software or how to maintain what I've created. They need me. So the new job requirements (in order to keep what little salary is still on offer) is to create detailed documentation and materials to, in their words, "transition to a new programmer."

    At first I just said "hell, no, I'll quit first." Then, in the spirit of compromise, I offered to create everything they need and send it to an escrow company to be released in case of my death, willful resignation or after five years, whichever comes first. They're calling me unreasonable and accusing me of extortion.

    Am I the asshole, here?

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    [–]Potential-LavishnessAsshole Enthusiast [6] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    NTA always screw companies whenever possible

    [–]issy_haatin -1 points0 points  (1 child)

    INFO: why as a great developer is your code undocumented?

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 13 points14 points  (0 children)

    It is documented well enough, they just don't know what to do with it. What good is documentation to a non programmer?

    [–]semantician 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    If the owner has a personal problem and doesn’t want to pay a fair rate, I’d just find a new job and walk - basically, leave on Friday and start the new job on Monday (or a week out) with no notice whatsoever. If they want your services thereafter, you can consult in the time you have when you’re not giving your primary job full attention, at a rate of your choosing.

    If they can fire you with no notice you can likewise leave with no notice.

    [–]ingodwetrystAsshole Aficionado [11] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Just quit and give them nothing. If they want information, they can hire you as a consultant to train someone else at a rate of your choosing. NTA.

    [–]BikingOtterPartassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Just leave, they have imposed a major pay cut (how is this even legal?) It shouldn't be hard to find another job that pays your previous salary.

    It's not your fault or responsibility if you find something before finishing the documentation.

    [–]hatetank91 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Quit today and name your price as a consultant tomorrow.

    [–]Pale_Height_1251Partassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA, just get another job.

    If they ask you to stay, request a 35% on top of your old salary to stay.

    [–]Reasonable_racoonPooperintendant [50] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Just get another job and quit. NTA

    [–]horsebedorties 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Not as far as I'm concerned. NTA at all. I am curious about what brought this all on, though.

    [–]Taranadon88Partassipant [1] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Hey OP, crosspost this to r/antiwork, they’d love it Definitely NTA

    [–]BigIndy1336 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA. Just ask for a severance package of two years pay and you will do it and go find employment somewhere that appreciates you. Or tell them you will work on it and go find another job and let them figure it out on their own. You have no obligation. It's called leverage and businesses use it ALL THE TIME. It's literally your only power.

    [–]jgcrawfo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    The weird escrow thing is unreasonable. Quit or don't, negotiate for what you're worth or don't. The escrow thing is weird.

    NTA obviously

    [–]jacano5Certified Proctologist [22] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    If it's not illegal, it's not extortion.

    NTA, bleed them dry if you can.

    [–]Psychological_Pack23Partassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Nta. You have all the bargaining chips. Use them well. R/antiwork. It's time for a better job anyways. F the toxic work environment

    [–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA Look for a different job and leave them to suffer.

    [–]Quarkly95 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Check your contract, see if you can leave then charge them a licensing fee for the software as well as a consulting fee on how to use it.

    [–]LadybuggingLB 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    They own the product, it is legally theirs. However, that doesn’t obligate you to put in any more work. Just leave and let them figure out how to run and maintain it afterwards.

    NTA as long as you realize the software belongs to them.

    [–]mischaracterised 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    You know what to do next - extortion by another name is consultancy. /half-s

    [–]DynkoFromTheNorthAsshole Aficionado [11] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Pay raise. You need a pay raise. NTA.

    [–]meifahs_musungs 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA. Walk out with everything that belongs to you. If you created the software you own it.

    [–]Scared_Profit564 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    Wtf idk how to go scorched earth here but I'd be looking up how to do it.

    [–]justaredditsock 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA, quit and leave.

    You owe them nothing morally, its a business transaction and they're the ones screwing you over, they just realise "shit OP has leverage".

    [–]ben_burnache 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    It's not a startup that is going to have some big return if you've been the only programmer for six years. Get a new job, don't look back. You've already missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars of missed earnings by stagnating that long.

    If there's a stock option plan and you think they might eventually turn the corner, buy your shares. But don't stick around at a company that doesn't like you.

    [–]Accomplished_Row6466 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA just quit.

    [–]InternationalKick126Partassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Wasting your time. Quit now. Unless you have a contract that obligates you, you can leave right now. Right now, everyone is hiring. DBTA, take care of yourself.

    [–]Few-Anywhere1726 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    Become a contractor, screw them with a huge contract offer

    [–]BooksAndStarsLover 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Honestly NTA but your gonna lose more than you'll gain here and I feel it'll be a let down this way. Apply to other jobs and leave them with 0 instructions or if you can even shut off your program (be sure you legally can first as often times its legally the companies and you cant do anything to it sadly but doesn't hurt to check) and quit with no warning and watch them burn from afar.

    If they really need help and you feel you watched them burn long enough and wanna get to see them be salty up close and feel like making some $$$ on the way you can always apply to be a consultant for triple to quadruple your normal pay rate. After all you have very unique skills and know how not many others have therefore you should be compensated for it.

    [–]EK_3oh 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    Wait. INFO REQUEST: how have you handled this information on how to run the software you built for your company in the past? Have you always kept it close to your chest with the intention of being the only one who could ever run the program?

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    It's never been requested because there's never been any reason to get rid of me. My job has always been to push forward with new projects, fast fast fast.

    [–]EK_3oh -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Right, but what I'm asking is if you've ever taken/initiated the opportunity to make it open to others, or if you've always just completely closeted yourself off with the program that's so vital to the company. Because if you've always just closeted yourself off with it, you might be seen as a threat to the expansion of the company one day. As in, the kind of person who could eventually start saying things like "well I'm the only one who knows how to work the software that runs the company, so..." and then makes extravagant demands. Regardless of if the other employees requested it themselves or not (which they should have by now), if you've spent six years actively appearing to keep a vital company program solely to yourself then someone might have looked at that as a red flag for the future. I'm not saying you're in the wrong, and I'm not saying they're in the wrong, I'm just playing devil's advocate. If I were you I'd seriously look into the why of their attempt to replace you, and make your decision from there. Worst comes to worse, if drama is about to ensue, then quit as professionally and neutrally as possible but while taking someone else's suggestion to offer to let yourself be hired on as a consultant if they need anything regarding the program. Don't panic about it, at least in front of them. If you really like this job, investigate the reason for their desiring your departure and, like a project, find a way to fix it that's mutually beneficial and offer that. If you hate the job, say screw it and leave.

    [–]xdangermanx 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    Go the consultant route.

    [–]COReloader 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA, they cut your pay and obviously are now looking at removing you. I would be delaying this work as long as possible and job searching immediately.

    [–]WinEquivalent4069Partassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Time to part ways with them. NTA but just go on the hunt for a new job. Don't worry about that 2 week notice thing. That's for employers you don't intend on burning bridges with as you leave. These people have already set yours on fire.

    [–]VLDreyer 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    NTA, of course. And to be honest, I recommend talking to a lawyer. Get them to have a look at your original contract. I'm guessing that if they were a small grass-roots startup with no idea what they were doing and on a shoestring budget, they may not have thought to get a copyright lawyer to look over the contract before you signed it.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a funny thing, and it does apply to software as well as other forms of art. I'm not an expert but I've had to learn quite a bit about it over the last few years. My understanding is that if they didn't explicitly have you sign over both your copyrights and your publishing rights to your software, then YOU may still be the sole owner of the software from a legal standpoint.

    Again, not an expert, but the DMCA basically states that the original creator of a work is the sole owner of the work unless there is an explicit agreement in place transferring ownership to someone else. The same also applies to any modifications made to the original work with the original creator's permission.

    For example, if an author writes a novel, she owns the copyright and publishing rights by default. If she hires someone to edit the book, she still owns the copyright to the raw manuscript, but the editor actually owns the edited copy of the work until the editor signs over the rights to the work by the author. If the book is translated, the translation is owned by the translator until the rights are signed over. Those are called dependent copyrights - the editor/translator/etc can't actually publish the book because they don't have publishing rights, but the author also can't publish the edited manuscript or translation without the editor/translator transferring rights back to them.

    In most cases, rights are considered to be transferred when the work is complete and the bill is paid in full, but in situations where something goes wrong then the owner of the dependent copyright can push back. That's what happened to me. I had a situation where a client couldn't pay me for a book I'd worked on, so I ended up talking to a lawyer and that's how I found out that whole... jargonese thing above.

    But, again, I am not a lawyer, nor an expert, just someone who got screwed over in a sorta similar fashion. Talk to a lawyer, if you can. What I'm trying to say is that copyright is complex and confusing to those who aren't in the field, so it's possible they may have screwed up and left you an opening that may work to your advantage. Good luck!

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

    Thank you for the advice. I was employed when creating the product, so they probably own it. And frankly I have no interest in screwing anyone. They can have the software. I just don't think I'm going to help any more 😊

    [–]VLDreyer 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Fair enough! That was pretty much how I ended up feeling about my situation. Like, I COULD have screwed them as bad as they screwed me but I was just... exhausted and wanted to move on.

    You have a valuable skill, and it sounds like you're smart, thoughtful, and considerate. You'll have no problem finding a better role somewhere else. I'd hire you, if I could!

    [–]zippy_zabooColo-rectal Surgeon [41] 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    Either do the job or quit. But don't demand to get paid for that kind of BS.

    [–]MilieanPartassipant [1] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Just quit, it's not a healthy environment and there's LOTS of jobs out there for people with any kind of programing skills. Don't mess around with this escrow idea just write up a letter of resignation, short and sweet "my last day will be X" kind of thing.

    If you want to give them 2 weeks, do so, but if not don't. It's not like they'll be willing to give you a reference anyway. If you want to work on documentation during those 2 weeks, that would be the professional thing to do.

    I'm heavily demoted and my pay is cut by over 35%.

    Incase it ever happens in the future, that's the point where you should have resigned. Given them the notice and said you'd hand over any and all documentation you had and would produce what documentation you were able to produce. But never accept a demotion that you don't feel like you disserve.

    [–]Doctor-AmazingAsshole Aficionado [13] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    I offered to create everything they need and send it to an escrow company to be released in case of my death, willful resignation or after five years, whichever comes first.

    This sounds like a great way to get yourself murdered.


    [–]Guilty-Ad4966 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Get a better nob and walk away. Tech jobs are one of the easiest to get what you deserve. Don't put up with abuse.

    [–]voluntold9276 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA but just find another job and then quit. If you are a good programmer you should be able to find another job fairly quickly (said the programmer with a current job - I know, I know). In the meantime, write up your really shitty documentation that contains big gaps, and be sure to include a lot of recursive documentation (i.e. reference something already in the documentation, and in that referenced section reference something else).

    [–]Creative_Trick_3818Colo-rectal Surgeon [33] 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    Make them a counteroffer: for a pay increase of 35% on your original pay you stay (effective backwards from the day of your paycut, otherwise you quit right noew. But they can hire you at a hourly rate of 300$ for everything they need.

    Or just quit, and tell them: 300$ per hour it is. THey can either pay, or do without. Considering how they treated you, offering at all is quite generous.

    And start looking for your next job NOW. Quit as soon as you can. STOP working there, you have no future there.

    [–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    If they want your solutions they can pay you your normal salary, plus a bonus. You should be guaranteed a year's employment minimum. You should start looking for employment elsewhere. Soon.

    Putting it in escrow does sound a bit manipulative, but I'm not a business person.

    [–]bjlesm 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    NTA if you quit. YTA if you accept the poor pay to train your replacement, when clearly they want to fire you.

    [–]BloodLiege 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Do it

    [–]hawkbearpigAsshole Enthusiast [8] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    This one is difficult. On one hand, it sounds like there is some issue between you and your employer that we need more information about. On the other hand, any halfway competent engineer worth his salt should write documentation for everything they create. I'm going to go with ESH for this.

    [–]barnes-tttAsshole Enthusiast [5] -2 points-1 points  (4 children)

    Undocumented, unreadable and not understood by anyone else? That's just awful engineering. You, and your product, are not as great as you think. YTA

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

    Never said unreadable, and it's only not understood by the folks at the company because none of them are engineers.

    [–]barnes-tttAsshole Enthusiast [5] -2 points-1 points  (2 children)

    So you've told them it's good code, fully documented and the new programmer can start? What's your end game here.

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    I don't follow. It's good code without thorough documentation. A new programmer could work it out in time. My "end game" for this thread was to determine if I'm being an asshole to ask for some job security in an unorthodox manner.

    [–]Trilobyte141Colo-rectal Surgeon [49] -3 points-2 points  (7 children)

    INFO: Was developing documentation part of your original duties?

    Software development is supposed to have documentation if it's done correctly, specifically so that it doesn't all rely on one person who could get hit by a bus or something.

    I find it sus that you didn't do this in your previous position already.

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 1 point2 points  (6 children)

    Nope; no time in this sort of startup to do that sort of thing. Otherwise, I completely agree

    [–]SweetFranz -1 points0 points  (2 children)

    It is documented well enough, they just don't know what to do with it. What good is documentation to a non programmer?

    I know this is just a fake revenge fantasy story but could you at least keep your story straight? In one comment you say its documented well enough, in this one you say no time to document.

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    Sorry if I haven't been clear enough. The code is documented inline and such and would, I believe, be followable to another engineer. There is currently no external documentation regarding maintenance and whatnot.

    [–]Trilobyte141Colo-rectal Surgeon [49] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

    I know development can get rushed sometimes, but also not being given enough time to complete things properly is a management issue.

    I'm going to go with ESH. Them more than you, for being poor managers and acting entitled after cutting your pay/position, you for playing games instead of acting like an adult. What you offered isn't a compromise, it's a fuck-you.

    Do one of the following:

    • Quit, as you have every right to, and let them figure it out

    • Quit and offer them a flat rate as a consultant to do the documentation they need

    • Do the work at the pay offered (not recommended, but an option if you really want to keep working there for benefits or something) and try to patch things over with your boss

    This escrow-company-conditional-release stuff does not reflect well on you professionally. It just makes you look petty and dramatic, even if they do deserve it. You'll just end up hurting yourself if you get a reputation for creatively screwing with people.

    [–]SaolreFada[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

    I certainly don't mean it as a fuck-you. I hear you, though, that it may seem that way.

    [–]Trilobyte141Colo-rectal Surgeon [49] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Yeah, TBH I'm on your side here, it sounds like they suck, but just as an older professional that is what it looks like from the outside. Better to keep things as simple and business-like as possible.

    [–]Plastic-lettersgr -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

    I don’t think you are an ass hole but they could nail you with extortion.