So You Think You Can Dance?

May 08, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $250,000

The “Café Disco” episode of The Office might as well have been called “The Hostile Work Environment.” Or “The No Work Environment.” Dunder Mifflin Scranton turned into a coffee house dance bar at the expense of any corporate productivity.

A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere. An isolated comment is generally not enough to create a hostile work environment. That’s why it’s tough to assign an accurate value to a half hour episode of The Office sometimes. Not this week.

What started off as the boss slow-dancing with the receptionist turned into an erotic dance-off between coworkers, with at least one employee (Angela) being unwillingly included in the fracas. Worse, upstairs in the relative calm of the office, Dwight (still an assistant manager of some sort) was cutting off an employee’s (Phyllis) blouse and giving her a deep body massage. Give Dwight credit for minimizing Phyllis’ workers’ comp claim, though. His magic, beet-stained fingers did the trick.

Nevertheless, Dunder Mifflin is in big trouble. Angela and Phyllis, and possibly several other unintended victims, could bring valid claims against the company. Let’s call it $250,000 –- $100,000 each for Angela and Phyllis, and $50,000 for anyone else who makes a claim even though they weren’t singled out.

For liability purposes, thank goodness there’s only one new episode left this season.  Check back next week for the big finish!

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1 Bill Shields
09:14:55, 15/05/09

How does the disco create a hostile work environment within the meaning of federal law? The disco did not create anything based on a protected category. How does it differ from a company picnic or other social activity?

2 Joe
11:01:45, 15/05/09

That episode was just nuts. I was so sure Phyllis would end up suing Dunder Mifflin when Dwight went to work on her back. He just gets crazier every episode.

3 Maggie Mentel
11:46:47, 15/05/09

There is a huge difference between going to work, where you are required to be and going to a company picnic that is voluntary. At a company event, no one has to attend or participate. At work, there is an assumption that everyone will participate and be part of the “team”. Slow dancing with my co-workers is not part of the deal when I go to work.

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