Booze, Porn Addiction, and Interventions: What a Holiday Party

December 12, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $1,000,000

The folks at Dunder Mifflin must have felt like giving because they were essentially writing checks on the “Moroccan Christmas” episode of The Office. As always, there was plenty of inappropriate conduct going on this week, but rarely does it rise to this level.

Michael served excessive amounts of alcohol to Meredith, causing her to get drunk and light herself on fire ($); then, he led an intervention about her alcoholism — at work ($$); and then, he basically kidnapped her and physically assaulted her as he tried to falsely imprison her at the rehabilitation center ($$$).

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Take a Seat

December 05, 2008 - by: Dominic Verstegen 0 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $0

While everyone at Dunder Mifflin seemed a little more animated than usual on “The Surplus” episode of The Office, fortunately there was nothing that I saw that anyone did to create liability for the company in terms of a lawsuit. Obviously, I don’t recommend secretly marrying a coworker against her will, but that isn’t going to lead to a verdict against Dunder Mifflin.

Despite this, there were still things that we can learn from “The Surplus.” The thing that stuck out to me the most was Pam’s kissing up to Michael when she was trying to get him to choose new chairs over a new copier. She dolled herself up and made several flattering comments about how nice Michael’s back side looked in those $9 pants.

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It’s a Setup

November 21, 2008 - by: Dominic Verstegen 1 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $500,000 to Toby; maybe a couple of bucks to Pam.

Welcome back Toby to The Office! For your trouble, how about a sizable money judgment courtesy of Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute, and the good folks at Dunder Mifflin! Invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault . . . the list goes on and on. You’d think with all this action, Toby’s facial expression would have changed at some point during the episode. Alas, it’s not in his repertoire.

It’s been a while since we’ve had an episode containing such blatant improper behavior — and clear liability on behalf of the company. Whether it was Michael threatening Toby, Michael setting up Toby for a crime, or even Ryan and Kelly just making out in front of Toby (that really explicit, lippy making out, like in Top Gun — nasty), Toby endured a lifetime’s worth of emotional distress in just one workday.

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Addressing the ‘Toxic Manager’

August 29, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 0 COMMENTS

Rainn Wilson (Dwight) has been all over the place lately promoting his new movie and the new season of The Office. One of his more interesting appearances in the media was a Business Week article in which he was interviewed about “office jobs from hell.” It was interesting to learn that Rainn used to work at an insurance broker’s office and as an assistant to the assistant special events coordinator at a charity before becoming famous.

Rainn talked about the cruelty of fluorescent lights (suggesting that we send prisoners of war to a 60-hour workweek at an insurance company in Omaha) and a particularly “toxic” boss he had. Oddly, Rainn raised a good point, not about bear attacks like his alter ego Dwight would do, but about the dangers of a poisonous environment at work.

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Night Out

April 26, 2008 - by: Julie Elgar 4 COMMENTS

This week’s episode raises some interesting issues for employers. The one that first comes to mind is whether an employer should host internal social networking websites for their employees. Frankly, I’ve got mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, social networking websites are great for recruiting, communicating information, answering employee questions, and allowing employees to get to know colleagues in far off places. A virtual water cooler if you will. But (and this is a large “but”) they also have some significant downsides if not maintained properly. Internal social networking websites must be monitored for inappropriate content (like, for example, the sexual predators who infiltrated the Dunder Mifflin website), disclosures of the company’s confidential information, and for those people who try and use the website as their own personal dating service. I shudder to think about what Michael will do with this feature once Dunder Mifflin 2.0 is up and running.

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