Ben Franklin

February 01, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 9 COMMENTS

LITIGATION VALUE: $800,000+

If an executive learns that a regional manager has sponsored a bachelor party in the warehouse, hired a stripper, offered to “deflower” the bride, taken an employee to a sex store, received a lap dance, and allowed a pervert dressed up like Benjamin Franklin to make a lewd statement to the receptionist, she should fire him. As soon as possible. Anything else and the company is looking at significant liability. Of course, at Dunder Mifflin, Jan is likely caught in a Catch-22. As soon as she fires Michael, she could be facing a charge for her own conduct in having an affair with her subordinate. Ah, what a tangled web we weave….

As this week’s episode colorfully illustrates, it is not enough to have an anti-harassment policy. Dunder Mifflin has one (as Michael mentioned- twice) and look what happened. Rather, employers must demonstrate that they take the policy seriously and that they are committed to stopping sexual harassment in the workplace. If they can’t, a court is likely to find the policy ineffective. And when it does, the company can say goodbye to its affirmative defense and say hello to punitive damages.

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9 COMMENTS

1 temp
10:19:49, 02/02/07

I thought it was interesting how nobody was really into getting the strippers or lap dances except for Michael. And he was only doing it to try to be cool and fit in. All the other employees just stood back and tried to make sure they weren’t at fault if blame ever came down. Except, of course, for Dwight trying to follow his leader by ordering a stripper and Meredith who loves how the alcohol flows in the office and the idea of the male stripper. I guess Ryan went to the sex shop with Michael, but he wasn’t too happy about that (but is he ever happy about anything?).

2 gmillet
12:19:28, 02/02/07

love the office, one of my favorite shows! and this blog is really cool too!

3 Rhonda B. Weaselle
12:58:24, 02/02/07

I found this through a yahoo.com article – what a fantastic blog! As funny as The Office is, I’ve often “wondered” what the potential real-life ramifications of having such a completely clueless supervisor would be, and now I know!

4 Julie Elgar
14:08:02, 02/02/07

Thanks for checking out the blog! I’m glad you like it, and I’m sure Michael and the rest of his Dunder Mifflin gang will provide us with both laughs and more employment situations to discuss in the coming weeks.

5 satkins@elt-inc.com
20:50:30, 02/02/07

Your blog is a fantastic concept — Using entertainment and pop-culture knowledge to put employment law principles into context, and make them memorable. I also LOVE The Office! My favorite episode (US and British versions) still has to be the Diversity / Harassment Training show — largely because my business focuses on this area. For an informative (but hardly as funny) blog with the latest on harassment and ethics training, check out my posts at http://www.HarassmentTraining.com. I look forward to reading your future posts! Cheers, Shanti Atkins.

6 allsteaks
11:29:36, 05/02/07

First time viewing this blog and it is very interesting. When I’ve watched “The Office”, my first impression is no company can be this stupid to allow all of this bad (illegal) behavior. Yet reading other forums and HR info sites, I realize this stuff really does happen, perhaps just not quite as exaggerated as the Office.
Keep up the blog, it is a meaningful study in workplace dilemmas!!

7 Officehead
12:27:47, 07/02/07

I can’t believe you didn’t mention the worst of all – in the very beginning when he and dwight are making that video for his unborn son and they go to Pam to demonstrate removing a bra. I don’t know what was worse – that, or seeing Dwight in a bra in the next scene.

8 Puck
16:26:06, 13/02/07

“Your blog is a fantastic concept — Using entertainment and pop-culture knowledge to put employment law principles into context”

…and then we all vomited. I hope that’s YOU posting on a made up account. Because if not, there are two people who have worked the fun out of themselves.

For the love of God… I like the idea, but if this blog were any drier I’d be dehydrated!

9 DiversityTomorrow
13:20:02, 20/02/07

Hmmm…interesting that you identified the executive as a “she” in your first paragraph. An executive can also be a “he” and the majority of executive officers in USA are men. Didn’t Jan and Michael disclose their relationship to Toby already?

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