That’s What Friends Are For

March 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nothing much to speak of, although Dwight will hopefully value Jim a little bit higher now.

Well, Dwight has a lot to thank Jim for after this week. I’d like to think that he might improve his attitude and behavior toward Jim — and the rest of the office, for that matter — but I don’t see that happening. Still, after Jim saved Dwight’s job, one hopes Dwight will be grateful. Discovering that Robert California was planning to tank the retail store idea and make Dwight the scapegoat — it turns out Robert hated the idea, but couldn’t veto it outright because “the great Jo Bennet” wanted retail stores — Jim showed an admirable determination to save Dwight’s career, despite Dwight’s incessant needling and taunting about his “victory.”

Personally, I wouldn’t have blamed Jim if he walked away after the first attempt to reach Dwight. (Being called a six-foot Hobbit had to hurt.) After all, Dwight hasn’t made much of an effort to be a good co-worker over the years we’ve known him. Who among us would have been sorry to see him go, if we had to work with him? Still, some of my favorite “Office” moments are those when Dwight and Jim team up, or when we see flashes of possibility for a friendship to develop between them. It probably never will — there’s too much bad blood there — but Jim’s gesture last night certainly gave me a lot of respect for him. (And for Pam, too, for encouraging Jim to help Dwight out.)

There’s not much litigation value for Dwight in this situation. In some cases, an employee may choose to argue that he was “set up to fail” by management, in order to give management a pretext for firing him — but that the real reason that he was fired was discrimination. However, Dwight doesn’t seem to have a discrimination case, so being made a scapegoat – or attempted scapegoat, if you will, since ultimately it was Todd Packer who took the fall – likely won’t lead to any litigation for him. Oh, and a word about Todd Packer: As amusing as I’ve always found him, and as good value as he was (for us blogging attorneys, anyway), Sabre may have gotten a good result there. While he didn’t deserve to be fired over the retail stores, he certainly did deserve to be fired for many past transgressions. Sabre may have jettisoned a big legal liability there — lucky break for Robert California.

Meanwhile, as Super Jim saved Dwight’s job in Tallahassee, it was business as usual in Scranton. Darryl and Toby were at odds selling their daughters’ Girl Scout cookies. Darryl, tricky man that he is, offered to split the “sales territory” and “give” Toby the sales and administration departments, and keeping only accounting for himself. Of course, accounting contains Kevin, who revealed himself as the prime cookie buyer of the season, promising to purchase more than a hundred boxes. (Having sold Girl Scout cookies myself, I can testify that’s quite the expensive proposition.) Kevin made Darryl and Toby dance — literally — for the right to sell him cookies, until both would-be salesmen walked away in disgust, leaving poor Kevin cookieless.

While the singing and dancing might be out there, the Girl Scout cookie-selling scenario is one that offices across the country are witnessing right now. And while Girl Scout cookies are great — I do love those Samoas — some offices may have anti-solicitation policies that prohibit selling anything, Thin Mints included, in the workplace. I know what you’re thinking: But who could object to someone selling cookies on behalf of their kid? And where will I get my Tagalongs if the anti-solicitation policy is enforced? Well, managers would do well to consider that if they bend the rules for one employee — allowing Darryl or Toby to sell cookies, or Ryan to advertise his new social media site, for instance — they won’t be able to enforce a no-solicitation and no-distribution policy against messages that they don’t want coming into the workforce. What happens when someone wants to distribute union literature, for instance? Andy may value having a direct relationship with his employees and not want to have to work with them through an outsider … but if he allows Darryl and Toby to solicit Girl Scout cookies, he won’t be able to stop someone else from soliciting union authorization cards. (Look, I’m not anti-cookie; I’m just pointing out a potential wrinkle.) It’s something to think about while we all munch our Do-Si-Dos.

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