Andy Goes Soft

April 19, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 5 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $200,000 for Andy’s severe emotional distress. Possible future litigation for his termination.

Not subtle. Not subtle at all. Nellie has already usurped Andy’s manager status. Then she hauls Andy and his coworkers into a conference room and writes “IMPOTENCE” in bright red letters on the flip chart. Robert California sits there, amused by the whole spectacle.

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress has four elements: (1) extreme and outrageous conduct (2) inflicted intentionally or recklessly (3) that caused emotional distress, and (4) the distress was severe. Applying these factors to this episode, Andy has a viable action against Dunder Mifflin.

The conduct was certainly extreme or outrageous. Nellie, with Robert’s authority, convened a meeting that revealed Andy’s impotence to the rest of the staff. The conduct was intentional. Nellie, again with Robert’s authority, wrote IMPOTENCE on the flip chart in flaming red caps. The conduct clearly caused Andy emotional distress that was severe. “That poor wall,” Daryl sighed, as Andy punched his fist through it for the second time. And on top of all this, Robert legitimized Nellie’s mutiny by ordering Andy to step down from his manager position … and he may have done so because he wants to sleep with Nellie. This is a lawsuit for a future episode.

There’s really no takeaway lesson from the “Angry Andy” episode. The company’s conduct was obviously deplorable. One almost wishes the show’s writers had just gone all in and let Dwight show everyone in the conference room why he described himself as The Washington Monument.

That’s what Dwight said. What do you say? Let us know.

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1 Thomas R
00:31:09, 20/04/12

As bizarre as it seems I got the distinct impression she did the meeting on impotence to help Andy not hurt him. Before the meeting she said she felt bad about any harm to his personal life. So in a Michaelesque way I think she thought if they all talked about he’d be more okay and that would alleviate her guilt.

No sane person would probably think like that, but as presented she’s borderline insane. I don’t know if that would be a defense for her or not, but I could see “thinking on it” and deciding Robert California is the person Andy might really want to sue. He practically allowed a mental patient to steal Andy’s job, did nothing to resolve the situation, and was visibly delighted at his discomfort by the meeting.

And poor Toby. Erin tried to ask if HR could step in and he just concedes he’s powerless.

2 Frax
09:35:45, 20/04/12

ERIN: Toby, doesn’t HR have some rules against talking about this kind of stuff?
TOBY: HR is a joke. I can’t do anything about anything…

Loved it — Erin as the voice of common sense, and Toby admitting he’s given up (but who could blame him when the CEO himself just invited employees to share stories of their “most remarkable erections”?)

3 Shirley
12:49:36, 23/04/12

As a Director of HR, I found it stunning (although quite amusing) that, when one of the characters mentioned to Toby that this meeting needed to stop, Toby said something like “eh, it doesn’t matter, no one listens to me anyway.” I’d bet a court and/or jury would be DYING to hear Toby on the stand!

4 GDad
12:50:16, 24/04/12

Was there any concern about the sort-of gambling going on around Phyllis’s cliches about rainy days?

5 Chris Butler
11:19:53, 14/05/12

GDad — Not much to worry about there. I mean, if the proliferation of March Madness betting pools don’t seem to rattle gaming commissions and revenue departments, workplace wagering won’t likely burden the company with liability. Good eye, though.

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