Breaking up is hard to do

February 18, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: David Wallace, get your metaphorical wallet out. You’ve got settlement checks to write for Erin ($2,500-$5,000 for sexual harassment and potentially a lot more for invasion of privacy), Pete ($5,000-$10,000 for sex discrimination and a touch of IIED), and Alice (the weakest claim, but still worth $1,000 or so for nuisance value).

What a night in Scranton. Dwight has roped Angela into acting as caregiver for his elderly aunt (best quote of the night: “Loose braids reflect a loose character”), and Pam is interviewing for an office manager job (which turns out to be a receptionist position in disguise) for the Michael Scott of the Philadelphia real estate industry. There’s plenty of material there, but I’ll leave that for one of my esteemed colleagues to discuss on re-runs, because I want to talk about the A plot.

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Turf War; Smurf War

May 03, 2012 - by: Adam Klarfeld 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Wait, Dunder Mifflin might actually be a plaintiff in an employment dispute? In a surprising turn of events, the company may have claims against Andy Bernard for stealing a major client and against Jim and Dwight for stealing from the company. Not surprisingly, Dunder Mifflin is looking at liability ($150,000+) for Robert California’s “filthy” messages to his subordinate, Nellie. Also, Pam’s acquisition of Nellie’s cell phone raises several privacy issues in the workplace. WARN Act violations could also cost the company another $100,000.

This episode was like a law school exam. So many issues; so little time.
First, we see the Syracuse and Scranton salespeople fighting over the Binghamton office’s (former) clients. The Binghamton office seemingly closed with little warning. Assuming that Dunder Mifflin employs over 100 full-time employees overall and terminated more than 50 at this site, the company needed to comply with the notice requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and any New York-state counterpart. Damages under the federal WARN Act include lost wages (up to 60 days per employee), a civil penalty, and attorneys’ fees.

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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.

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Nervous (About) Nellie

February 16, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $100,000 – perhaps more if Todd Packer sleeps his way to a VP position.

All sorts of sexual shenanigans occur throughout tonight’s episode, “Tallahassee.” Most of the action takes place in the aforementioned capital city of Florida, where Dwight, Jim, Stanley, Ryan, Erin, and Kathy are attending a meeting regarding Sabre’s plan to open retail stores. And who else do we find at the meeting but walking employment law disaster Todd Packer and Nellie Bertram, the slightly … quirky, shall we say, friend of Jo who memorably interviewed for the regional manager position in Scranton. Todd and Nellie engage in the most blatant inappropriate conduct of the episode — and Nellie’s wink to Todd after she says she is “waiting for someone to wow me” hints at perhaps even worse.

Before we get to the meeting itself, let’s talk about Dwight’s behavior that morning. Concerned about making it to the meeting on time, Dwight takes it upon himself to wake up the rest of the team members by using duplicate keys to enter their hotel rooms and rouse them from their sleep. He frightens Kathy, suffocates Stanley and exposes Erin to Ryan’s drowsy amorous advances (until Ryan realizes he is on camera — “not cool!”). Though Dwight gets his comeuppance via a detailed prank courtesy of Jim, that doesn’t change the fact that his co-workers might well file claims against him (and the company, as he is the head of the project) based on his invasion of their privacy, infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

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Michael May Be Gone — But His Emails Go On!

August 25, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Counting down the weeks until the new season of The Office starts. Tonight’s rerun episode — “Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager” — was first covered by my Office (and office) mate Jaclyn West; check it out, it’s a great read (http://blogs.hrhero.com/thatswhatshesaid/2011/05/14/straight-shooter/).

Poking around The Office website on nbc.com, I came across a web exclusive: a collection of e-mails between Michael and his former Dunder Mifflin co-workers. You can read them at http://www.nbc.com/the-office/exclusives/michael-scott/yahoo/. Check out the folders labeled “Friends” (particularly the one from Holly) and “Co-workers.” The latter includes several messages from Michael as he flew across the country to reunite with Holly in Colorado (thank goodness for in-flight WiFi, and thank goodness that Ryan let Michael know that the WiFi was available throughout the plane, not just in the bathroom), as well as some post-departure e-mails from the denizens of The Office. I especially liked the one from “The Fist,” and Dwight’s anxious reply.

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Ideas for Surviving Sitcom Purgatory

July 29, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 1 COMMENTS

I feel like I’m trapped in sitcom purgatory, stuck between The Office episodes of yesteryear and the glorious Scranton Promised Land where James Spader reigns supreme as the new branch manager. If you are like me, and find the combination of August heat and reruns to be oppressive at times, I have the following suggestions.

First, check out NBC’s website. It does a great job providing fans of The Office with all sorts of extra material. For example, watch interviews of the cast on a variety of topics, including their own savvy with social networking and general Internet technology. Or if you would rather just watch one of your favorite reruns, those are available, too. For a quick laugh, I recommend the trailer to “Threat Level Midnight” (A Michael Scott Joint).

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Let’s Get It On…

February 11, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 4 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: none now, but plenty in the making.

Studio 54 was a nightclub in New York City with infamously loose rules related to sexual expression. Rumor has it that back-room rendezvous were the norm. Sabre/Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office may be trying to give the club a run for its money.

Dwight Schrute reminded us that practically everyone in the office has had sex there at some point. Jim and Pam got it on last night. We’re not sure where they did the deed, but after imbibing during lunch, they almost hooked up in a cardboard box. Ryan actually extended an invitation for them to use his closet/office.

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Corporate Espionage for Dummies

October 21, 2010 - by: Brian Kurtz 5 COMMENTS

Prison Sentences for Michael, Dwight, and Jim: Up to seven years for interception of oral communications plus up to seven years for attempted theft of trade secrets. There may also be criminal conspiracy prosecutions against Meredith, Oscar, and Ryan.

Litigation Value: Danny Cordray’s action for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Dunder Mifflin and several individuals = $250,000. Osprey’s action against Dunder Mifflin and several individuals for misappropriation of trade secrets = an injunction and damages to be proved at trial.

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Watch Your Mouth

September 17, 2010 - by: Matt Scott 2 COMMENTS

workplace privacyForgive me for repeating myself, but The Office was a repeat last night. Thankfully it was the last repeat before next week’s season premier, Thursday, Sept. 23 on NBC.

Moving on. This was the episode where Jo sought to uncover who blew the whistle on Sabre’s faulty explosive printers. There really didn’t seem to be any federal employment laws implicated in this episode, but virtually every state in the country has some whistleblower protections in place for employees who report corporate wrongdoing. Some are created by statute, others are created by the courts (common law causes of action). What applies to you depends on the state in which you live.

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The Michael Scott School of Business

July 09, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: An education on management from the master (of disaster) … priceless.

The Office didn’t air in my little corner of the world last night, and I’m currently battling symptoms of withdrawal. So I decided to take a little walk down memory lane and relive some of my favorite lessons from Season 6. Remember, back in Season 2, when Michael gave Ryan the benefit of his many years of management experience through a series of cliches? What lessons would Michael share with us from this season?

Gossip: Michael divulges Stanley’s secret — he’s having an affair! — to the entire office. Feeling guilty, Michael makes up false rumors about everyone in the office, telling the office that Kelly has an eating disorder, Andy is homosexual, and Pam is pregnant. Turns out, Pam really is pregnant. Lesson learned: Talk is cheap … for Michael, anyway. Maybe not so much for Dunder Mifflin.

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