Business School

February 15, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 4 COMMENTS

LITIGATION VALUE: $30,000 (But it could have been much higher)

“Business is always personal” is probably not the best motto for a manager. It could lead them to act impulsively. Like, say, moving an employee’s desk from the front of the office to an “annex” inhabited by the employee’s chatty, fashion-crazed, quasi (ex?) girlfriend as a punishment for suggesting that the company could someday go out of business. But … would it be illegal? Maybe. Or at least it would be if Ryan’s speech could be considered a protected activity under Sarbanes-Oxley, the anti-discrimination laws, or some type of state whistleblower statute. Because Ryan’s speech (well, the part of it we could hear) probably did not implicate any of these statutes, Dunder Mifflin will likely dodge a bullet.

On the other hand, if Ryan had complained of discrimination and Michael had reacted the same way, then the Company would be looking at significant exposure. In a discrimination case, a manager’s actions do not necessarily have to be related to the workplace to land a company in hot water. Rather, an employer’s action need only be “materially adverse” to start the ball rolling. Telling an employee’s business school classmates that he has never made a sale and publicly berating him could do it. And I’m pretty sure that most guys would find being saddled with Kelly to meet this standard!

As for the bat, well, that seems like something that OSHA might be interested in. Just don’t let Michael hear about it – OSHA has an anti-retaliation provision too.

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1 danboy
19:01:13, 19/02/07

Really like this blog! Clever take on the show.

I’ll mention it over in (Office fan site). Or you could drop by there.

I think Meredith has a pretty good lawsuit after having a bag containing a live bat pulled over her head.

2 ktmtfl
21:19:29, 19/02/07

This is a great blog! I manage a bunch of people and I always wondered just how much this would have cost and at what point would Michael have been fired.

3 acsenray
10:39:30, 20/02/07

Fantastic blog, Ms. Elgar. As others have said, it’s a great way to combine education with entertainment. One hopes that managers can learn lessons from a fantastically funny show. Unfortunately, people tend not to see themselves in such characters, or as Michael said, How can a person have such little self-awareness?

4 DiversityTomorrow
13:10:51, 20/02/07

Just found this site (from links). Awesome. What a great idea, Julie!! Huge office fan here. Litigation value sub-header! Too funny! Ryan is such a disgruntled employee who is not loyal to DM (doesn’t even try to be), so you think he’d be excited and relieved to be fired. He was looking forward to the downsizing possibility a couple months ago. But no, he’d rather be trapped in a corner with Kelly. Ryan keeps contradicting himself. Wonder if there is a litigation value for a company AGAINST a disgruntled employee like Ryan. Defamation – his intro to class regarding DM. Hmm….

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