Grief Counseling Revisited

June 08, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $3,000 – $ 5,000 (the amount that Dunder Mifflin will have to pay an attorney to write a brief supporting its motion to dismiss the case).

The lesson from this episode is that, try as we might, there are some bad things that happen for which you can’t sue your employer. Or anyone else for that matter. Of course, this is not to say that people haven’t tried. A Pennsylvania man sued God (as well as all members of the 100th – 105th Congress, the President, every major news network, including NBC, and Janet Reno) in a lawsuit alleging that his constitutional rights were terminated when he got fired. Not surprisingly, that case was dismissed. Quickly. In another case, a man sued Satan for causing him misery and placing deliberate obstacles in his path to cause the man’s downfall — in Federal Court. I’m not kidding. The court dismissed the case because the plaintiff could not figure out a way to serve Satan with a copy of the complaint. With tongue in cheek, the court even pondered whether the case should be a class action.

While it wouldn’t be unheard of for a grieving employee such as Michael to sue his employer for the distress caused by losing his former boss, the claim would likely be dismissed pretty soon after it was filed. Maybe not as fast as it would be if Michael sued God, but pretty fast nonetheless. And if Michael is actually able to find God to serve him with a lawsuit, I’d say we have much bigger issues to deal with.

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2 COMMENTS

1 ashleyrah
11:19:56, 08/06/07

Julie-

My friends and I were discussing your blog the other night and the question of Jim v. Dwight came up. Could Dwight sue Dunder Mifflin for Jim’s continued pranks? Dwight even formally complained to HR on a regular basis and has his complaints thrown in a box. Is this actionable?

2 Julie Elgar
16:39:51, 14/06/07

I’d certainly love it as a story line. Can you imagine how that would unfold? Especially if they depose Michael….

But, in real life, I doubt there would be much exposure for Dunder Mifflin. Dwight’s most likely cause of action would be for harassment. And, to be actionable, he would have to show that the harassment was because of some protected category, was severe or pervasive, and that Dunder Mifflin knew about it and did nothing to stop it. Dwight could certainly prove that the Company knew about it and did nothing to stop it; however, I don’t think that Jim’s actions were sufficiently severe and Jim doesn’t seem to be targeting Dwight because of his membership in any protected category.

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