Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Litigation Value:  training management on whistleblower protections — $10,000; settling customer claims due to the flaming printers — more than Sabre would like to think about; finding out Holly’s coming back — priceless.

The printers aren’t the only things heating up at Sabre. Jo’s mission to root out the whistleblower had more than one person sweating in Scranton. Tensions were high given Pam’s admission to a reporter’s wife, Darryl’s misguided attempts to pick up a not-so-cute copy editor, Kelly’s infamous tweet, and Andy’s video. Unfortunately for Sabre, a variety of laws protect employees who choose to “blow the whistle” on employer wrongdoing.

In addition to a number of federal laws, many states have enacted laws protecting whistleblowers, some of which are broad in scope. One of the hotly contested issues in the whistleblower arena is the definition of protected whistleblower activity. Some states have a very narrow definition of protected whistleblower activity while others have a very broad definition.

Depending on which state you’re in, reporting flaming printers to the media may constitute protected whistleblower activity, particularly given the danger these printers pose to the public. Thankfully, Jo did not discharge anyone or send them to the dreaded Montego Bay. On second thought, who wouldn’t be happy to take credit for the whistleblowing if it means sipping daiquiris and soaking up some sun in beautiful Jamaica? Just make sure Michael is not there with a camera and hair beads.

Jo’s decision to have IT search employee hard drives turned up some additional Scranton mischief. In an environment where the boss spends most of the day having brain hurricane sessions about which joke to tell and impression to do next, it’s not surprising that many of Scranton’s employees are not exactly focusing on their job duties while at work. Apparently Toby’s a budding novelist, and everyone’s favorite intern (Ryan) is launching a program called “Woof,” for those of us who don’t think Twitter and Facebook are enough. Looks like the company should consider implementing a moonlighting policy, which should specifically state that employees cannot perform outside work during normally scheduled work hours and employees cannot use company equipment for outside work.

Given that Darryl’s been outed as a Facebook user and Kelly’s got a love for Twitter with no internal censor, Sabre should also consider implementing a social media policy warning employees to be careful of what they say on the Internet and that they may face disciplinary action for inappropriate postings. There are plenty of news reports out there about employees who have lost their jobs (or worse) due to unwise things they have posted to the Internet.

For example, one employee told his boss that he would be absent from work due to a family emergency. Instead, he went to a Halloween party dressed in a fairy costume complete with sparkly wings. Unfortunately for the employee, his boss saw a date-stamped photo of the employee in the fairy costume posted on Facebook. Realizing the employee had been dishonest about the reasons for his absence, the boss fired the employee but only after forwarding the embarrassing photo to the entire office. My guess is that Jo would have found a way to handle the situation by involving those two enormous great danes.

As a sendoff to Season 6 of The Office, here are the top six things we should all learn from last night’s episode:

  1. If you’re worried about someone playing with your Barbie, don’t develop a product that could potentially set customers’ hair on fire.
  2. If you want to get to the bottom of something, gathering everyone in a room and asking the wrongdoer to raise his hand probably isn’t the most effective way.
  3. If someone writes a song about you, you probably don’t want it to be about how you’ve made all your money by silencing whistleblowers.
  4. Michael won’t mind if you reveal damaging company information in an effort to pick up a date, as long as the person is cute.
  5. Never EVER let Meredith drive.
  6. Finally, be extra nice to the IT guy, because he knows all your secrets.

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2 COMMENTS

1 Joe
14:13:50, 21/05/10

Poor IT guy. All he wanted was some recognition.

2 Bonnie
14:12:33, 24/05/10

I saw that the IT guy (Nick!) is on a new show coming out next fall. Maybe he’ll get some recognition now!

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