Perfectenschlag

February 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nothing too outrageous last night, but are we seeing the beginnings of a couple of sexual harassment claims for Jim and Val?

Another week has gone by, and our favorite paper and printer sales team has heroically managed to continue to avoid discussing the bizarre behavior of their CEO at his party a few weeks ago. (What happens at Robert California’s, stays at Robert California’s, I guess.) But we’re certain to see more R.C. shenanigans in the coming weeks, because the head office is planning to open storefronts and Andy has tasked Dwight with coming up with a crack sales team to concoct a concept and open the stores. Dwight picked a group that, arguably, contains the five most dedicated and talented workers in the office — and Andy immediately rejected Dwight’s team because he couldn’t run his operation for three weeks without those folks. Andy told Dwight he could take a group of employees he deemed “less essential” — including Kevin and Kelly.

Naturally, Dwight was upset that Andy rejected his choice team and saddled him with, in Dwight’s opinion, a group of useless people. But since Andy’s the boss, Dwight couldn’t override him. So Dwight did what he does best — undermined Andy’s authority. Dwight announced the team in a way that he knew would upset the group, then unleashed the angry employees on Andy. Andy was forced to retreat from his previously chosen team, and he and Dwight picked the group together — Stanley, Jim, Erin, Ryan and Kathy. (Andy, this isn’t legal advice, but just a tip — Dwight wants your job and he’d love to undermine you all the way out the door. If you continue putting him into positions where he can assert his “authority” over his co-workers, he’s going to capitalize on those opportunities and you’ll come off looking like you can’t control him. Dwight has always been a problem employee and probably always will be, barring some major personality change. It’s fine to try to engage an employee like that — in fact, it’s a good idea. At the end of the day, though, everyone needs to be clear about the fact that you are the boss, not Dwight.)

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Stand by Me

December 02, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Implementing an antinepotism policy = $800; medical bills for Dwight’s tumble from his secret standing stool = $1,000; applying your “buffalo wings passion” to all aspects of your life = priceless.

Last night’s episode contained some interesting revelations about our friends at Dunder Mifflin Sabre.  Indeed, Creed may be part of a secret suicide cult, Phyllis is prone to “classic room-clearing farts,” Oscar likes to put puppies in ladles for photo purposes, and Creed spends part of his work day playing with a toy helicopter on the roof.  In addition, we learned that there is someone who actually intimidates regional manager Robert California — his wife, Susan.

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Funny Business

November 11, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: minimum $300,000 if Dwight is retained.
Once again, Dwight Schrute illustrates well what it means to “cross the line” while at work. He even raised the bar on inappropriate behavior at the Scranton branch, a feat we heretofore believed impossible. For those of you who missed this week’s episode, I’ll briefly describe.

Pam becomes fixated on whether Jim is attracted to a new employee, Kathy, who is training to replace Pam temporarily while she is out on maternity leave. Jim vigorously denies any such attraction, but Pam ultimately slides into a state of paranoid lunacy. She makes a deal with the devil to learn the truth at all costs – unleashing Dwight for the task. At that point, we knew we were in for a good time. Give Dwight free reign to do anything and you will not be disappointed. Or, I should say, we will not be disappointed as the antics ensue.

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California Scheming

October 20, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  More fodder for potential sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and national origin claims, but it could have been worse. At least Andy didn’t run naked through the parking lot with a doughnut on his ding-dong — that would have put me off of Krispy Kreme for awhile.

Was really looking forward to being able to discuss a new episode of The Office following the summer reruns and … NBC puts up a rerun of “The Incentive” against the World Series. Que sera. My colleague Josh Drexler gave his take on the episode (check it out at http://blogs.hrhero.com/thatswhatshesaid/2011/09/30/southern-exposure/), and now it’s my turn.

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A Man of Great Confidence

June 24, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 2 COMMENTS

With summer officially upon us, we resume the daunting task of helping the search committee sift through the would-be successors to Michael Scott. Turning our focus to outside candidates, this post evaluates a man whose ego is as big as the state for which he is named: Robert California.

Delivering a Walken-esque performance, James Spader‘s character dominates the interview process. When it appears that his experience selling deep-sea drilling and other refinery equipment has little to do with Dunder Mifflin’s paper business, he deftly shifts the discussion to “universal truths,” literally defining away the very existence of products. By interview’s end, Mr. California has the committee members answering his (largely rhetorical) questions, lending credence to Gabe’s assessment that he may be overqualified.

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Dwight. Pray. Love.

June 16, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0.00.  But Dwight needs to put at least $20 in the collection plate.

Sometimes The Office does not take place in the office. Such was the case in this week’s repeat broadcast of “Christening,” which takes place on a Sunday at Jim’s and Pam’s church. As guests file in, Dwight Schrute hands out his business cards with a whispered reminder of their need to buy paper. I’m pretty sure it’s not unlawful for Dwight to engage in selling activities at a house of worship. Tasteless, tacky and inappropriate, but not unlawful.  Conversely, how should an employer deal with an employee who wants to engage in religious activities in the workplace?

The general rule is that an employer has an obligation to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would create an undue hardship. So, does a security company with a strict grooming policy have to permit a Rastafarian applicant to wear his dreadlocks? Does a manufacturing company with a rotating weekend schedule have to excuse a Jewish employee who cannot work on Saturday? Can a pharmacy terminate an employee who refuses to dispense contraception?  Can Dunder Mifflin stop Angela from proselytizing to the Party Planning Committee (OK, made that one up)?

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Playing Favorites

May 06, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Get out your checkbook, Dunder Mifflin Sabre. Although your chauvinistic branch manager’s episode-ending dunk may have cut short his tenure in Scranton, his presumptive (acting) successor showed little in the way of enlightened damage control last night. Jo Bennett, where are you?

No matter how the Supreme Court rules in a closely watched real-world case involving allegations of widespread sex discrimination, the distaff members of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office seem to have a lucrative class action in the making. Women who head departments are routinely excluded not only from important decisions, but also from pick-up games of mini-basketball featuring moves that evoke “Magic [sic] Jordan.” And, at the same time, both new and not-so-new female hires are referred to with indelicate terms beginning with the letters “w” and “b.” Only a week after Michael Scott’s departure to the Centennial State and its delicacies, Deangelo Vickers seems intent on recasting the office (and The Office) in his own “just the guys” image.

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Time to Say Goodbye

April 29, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Michael asking Angela if she had thought they would have sex and Gabe accosting Erin in the women’s room = additional fodder for sexually hostile work environment claims; finding out Phyllis regularly buys erotic cakes = thousands of dollars in therapy for the party planning committee to forget that disturbing mental image; Michael finally getting his World’s Best Boss trophy = priceless.

It’s time to say goodbye to Michael Scott, everyone’s favorite foot-grilling, ladies suit-wearing, paintball-playing boss. While it is sad to see him go, we can’t help but be happy that he’s finally getting his fairytale ending with Holly. Last night’s episode had Michael coming to terms with his move to Colorado (including the reality that his improv class credits may not transfer) and trying to have a special moment with each of his Dunder Mifflin family members before he leaves. Now that he has taken off the microphone and boarded the plane to the land of bears, let’s look back on some of the best Michael Scott moments over the last seven seasons.

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Michael Gives Up the Mic

April 22, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0.00 for Gabe’s intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit against Erin. Stanley’s ADA action for his diabetes is primed and ready.

Michael’s final turn hosting the Dundies reminds us why The Office has been a source of so much material since this Blog launched five years ago.  Just about every award could be evidence in a future discrimination or harassment lawsuit — “Hottest in the Office,” “Diabetes Award,” “Cutest Redhead in the Office,” “Extreme Repulsiveness.”  If Michael misses his colleagues, he may get a chance to see them again … at his deposition.

Gabe likely feels aggrieved and may be tempted to sue Erin for the emotional distress she caused by using her acceptance speech as an opportunity to dump him in public. But Gabe should think twice before filing suit. In Sanders v. Rosen, a New York court refused to recognize termination of a romantic relationship as the basis for an emotional distress action. Most jurisdictions, however, do recognize a cause of action for stalking. Move on, Gabe. You should know better than to date a subordinate.

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Pushing the Limits of PDA

March 18, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS

When last night’s episode originally aired on February 10, 2011, I noted that the Scranton office more closely resembled a nightclub at the height of the sexual revolution than a reputable place of business — see my original commentary entitled “Let’s Get It On.” I discussed recent findings on the prevalence of workplace dating, as well as the inherent liability risks with office romances.

This time I’m going to focus more narrowly on the issue of PDA, or “Public Display of Affection,” as Michael and Holly’s exhibition is worthy of the record books. Their fondling, caressing, heavy breathing, etc., made everyone around them nauseatingly uncomfortable. Michael and Holly were so engrossed in each other that they were oblivious to their own PDA – an intervention was required just to bring it to their attention.

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