The Beginning of the End Revisited

April 18, 2013 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

Litigation Value: Possible workers’ comp claim for Dwight for injuries sustained in trying to cross a “flaccid cord”; groundwork established for a breach of contract suit by Nellie if Andy follows through on his intent to fire her

Tonight’s “previously aired” episode takes us back to the first episode of this, the last season of “The Office.”  The film crew apparently took the summer off, as the characters start the episode by discussing what they did over the summer (including Kevin’s unfortunate encounter with a turtle in the parking lot), Andy returns from a corporate Outward Bound adventure, and we are introduced to Clark (“new Dwight”) and Pete (“new Jim”), the “new guys” of the title.  We also get the first hint of what later will be developed as trouble in paradise between Jim and Pam. (Personally, I cannot believe that, after finally getting those two together, much to the viewers’ delight, the producers decide to manufacture problems between them.  But I digress.)

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It’s, Like, Dishonest

March 07, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation Value:  Dunder Mifflin faces potential FTC sanctions for Erin and Pete’s fake “like” marketing campaign on Facebook.

“Customer Loyalty” aired back in January, and I highly recommend Kristin’s post questioning the validity of Dwight’s loyalty pledge.  I might add that such a pledge is probably not necessary considering that most states recognize in some form that employees owe their employers a duty of loyalty to act in the employer’s best interest, regardless of whether the employees have executed any restrictive covenants.

I was interested in a short scene where flirty duo, Erin and Pete, rejoice over their marketing scheme to generate fake “likes” for Dunder Mifflin’s Facebook page.  Turns out, this is not only dishonest, but also may violate FTC guidelines as well as Facebook’s internal policies.  In 2009 the FTC determined that paying for positive online reviews without disclosing such constitutes deceptive advertising.  This determination could be extended to prosecuting firms that generate fake “likes” for Facebook pages.  On August 31, 2012, Facebook announced that it was ratcheting up its automated detection and removal of “likes” that may have been generated “by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk likes.”  These measures are going to be necessary.  IT research firm, Gartner, Inc., predicts that by 2014, 10 to 15 percent of online reviews will be fake or paid for.

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What NOT to wear to an interview

September 27, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: $0.00, but only because Pete has a conscience and Daryl is a cinephile.

In last week’s season premier, new guy Pete was compared to Jim, while other new guy Clark was compared to Dwight. I’m all good with the former comparison, but the latter is waaaay off. Dwight beds his women using blunt Shrute charm. Clark’s ruse to seduce Erin was plain creepy. Thankfully Pete stepped in because Andy was clueless.

If not for Pete’s intervention as makeup man, Dunder Mifflin may be defending a lawsuit by Erin for negligence. Consider the facts. Branch manager Andy acquires knowledge that one of his young male employees intends to lure one of his young female employees back to his apartment, ply her with wine, doll her up in sexy outfits, and film her. Andy’s response? Here, take my credit card. (Shaking head sadly.)

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Three Dwight Circus

September 24, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value: Andy’s vocal hatred for Nelly = fodder for her brewing constructive discharge and breach of contract case; New versus Old Dwight dynamic = possible future age discrimination issues; watching Old Dwight’s jealous alter ego attempt a terrifying stunt in the parking lot to put New Dwight in his place = priceless.

The Office kicked off its final season with quite a bang. With a New Dwight (“Dwight Jr.”) and a New Jim (“Plop”), Oscar’s secret affair with The Senator, growing tensions between Jim and Pam over career issues, and the big reveal about the paternity of Angela’s baby, this season should be an interesting one. Andy is back and relishing his role as Regional Manager except for one small problem–Nellie is still lurking around. Hopefully Outward Bound has not resurrected angry wall-punching Andy.   

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iPlaintiff

May 24, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: Ryan gets nothing today, but in a few years ….. who knows?

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) significantly broadened the ADA’s definition of disability. Ryan had me asking myself how much during last night’s rerun episode, Trivia. During the trivia contest, the organizers confiscated Ryan’s smartphone. Ryan held out for all of eight seconds before deciding that he would rather be ejected from the bar with his smartphone than remain there and compete for $1,000 without it.

Does Ryan have a disability under the ADAAA? Might Dunder Mifflin have to seek a reasonable accommodation for Ryan if he requests one? The answer today is likely “no,” but that could change in the not-too-distant future.

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Turf War; Smurf War

May 03, 2012 - by: Adam Klarfeld 1 COMMENTS
Adam Klarfeld

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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That’s What Friends Are For

March 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

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.)

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Tighten Your Saddles

February 24, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 1 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value: Cathy showing Jim the “Talla-Nasty” = yet more fodder for Jim’s sexual harassment lawsuit; five dots = a murky texting area and potential lawsuit for Darryl; and watching Dwight work himself into a human bedbug trap = priceless.

This After Hours episode has the gang engaging in conduct that should make any human resources professional cringe. Tighten your saddles, because it is bound to be a bumpy ride. While the Scranton branch is working late, the Florida team is hitting the hotel bar scene for some debauchery. As we have mentioned in previous posts, the fact that the conduct occurs outside the workplace does not necessarily free an employer from liability, particularly when a supervisor instructs her employees that bar attendance is “compulsory.” 

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Sabotage!

January 05, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: Nothing in this episode, but Dwight is perilously close to civil and criminal liability for his computer activities.

Jaclyn West wrote about this episode, Doomsday, two months ago when it originally aired. Her post discussed “motivation” and the inevitable sexual harassment of warehouse Val, either at the hands of Gabe or Darryl.

Dwight’s “Accountability Booster” raises a different employment law issue. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 prohibits, among other things, intentionally transmitting a code or program and causing damage to a computer system. Dwight’s doomsday program would have sent information to Robert California that was harmful to the Scranton employees. This likely does not violate the CFAA, but it reminds us that Dunder Mifflin needs an acceptable use policy to govern computer use by its employees.

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Stapler-Markers And Other Unusual Gift Ideas

December 23, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS
Joshua Drexler

Litigation Value: potentially millions when Dunder Mifflin/Saber tries to assert ownership rights over the Stapler-Marker or scented pink paper.

In an unusual deviation from its comic roots, last night’s episode of The Office, “Gettysburg,” tackled a difficult societal issue: the isolation and depression resulting from corporate America treating business like war….. Ok, that’s not true – just making sure you are paying attention. In reality “Gettysburg” was a re-run and typically hilarious. Jaclyn West initially provided great commentary.

One of my favorite moments from the episode involved the “Stapler-Marker.” The idea for this ingenious device bubbled up from the depths of Kevin’s unusual mind. Imagine it: no longer will you have to set down your marker before stapling the document that you are working on to another document. Instead, in one seamless movement, you will mark and then staple. Or you will staple then mark. As Kevin demonstrated, you might even be able to do both tasks at the same time, cutting out endless hours of wasted moments during the day.

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