Office Masquerades as Good Employer

October 31, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 0 COMMENTS

Cost of Trips: $800

Potential Exposure for Out-of-Office Accidents: $25,000 per employee

Litigation value for Dunder Mifflin’s missteps: $0.

This has to be some kind of record. For the fourth week in a row on The Office, we have a new episode in which no one at Dunder Mifflin did anything to put the company at risk of some sort of judgment for money damages. (Note — if Darryl touched Holly in the truck on the way to Nashua, that could have opened the company up to something.)

Of course, the reason the company can’t be held liable for anything in the “Employee Transfer” episode is that they took The Office out of the office! Pam and Jim were in New York, and Michael, Darryl, and Holly were on the road. The only storyline in the office revolved around Dwight messing with Andy about applying to Cornell. No one’s getting sued for that — unless Cornell sues The Office for defamation.

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Categories: Andy Bernard / Dwight Schrute / HR

Not All Monsters Are Bad

May 16, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 4 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $300,000 per claim (until respected HR manager is in place).

Though there is so much to write about — office romance, sexual harassment, what Kevin might be regarded as, pranks involving animals, and fraud — tonight, in honor of Toby’s departure, I want to focus on monsters.  It is no secret that Michael thinks Toby is one of the worst out there.  Not known for his subtlety, Michael referred to Toby as “His Horribleness,” called him an “idiot” several times, and compared him to Satan — all in between beeps on his watch alarm.  Over the last 12 years, Michael has mocked (and blocked) Toby’s HR efforts every step of the way.  The “Suck This” rock best sums up Michael’s feelings toward Toby.

Unfortunately, we sometimes see that companies in the real world have similar (though rarely as impassioned) views of HR.  Some on the business side see HR as an obstacle rather than a tool — and want us “Tobys” to all go off to South America.  Now, we know that this mindset is very dangerous and can create significant liability.  When employees see that management doesn’t take HR seriously, they don’t either.  This causes even more violations of policy — usually left unreported (because why bother).  And it really opens the company up to more claims and being blind-sided because HR can’t possibly have a pulse on an organization in this type of environment.

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May I Have the Next Envelope Please?

February 01, 2008 - by: Julie Elgar 11 COMMENTS

Continuing in the spirit of the awards season, my next category is “Most Ineffective HR Moment.” And the nominees are:

  • When human resources manager Toby told Dwight that his grievances were sent to Dundler Mifflin’s corporate office in New York while they were actually thrown into a box underneath Toby’s desk.
  • When Toby elects to disregard the company’s “love contract” policy with Jim and Pam. Or, really, having such a policy at all.

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Categories: HR

Local Ad

October 26, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $1,500.00 (or a few hours of their attorney’s time to prepare an internet usage policy)

It’s nice to be back! Thanks again to my guest blogger, Troy Foster, for pitching in while I had to work.

Did anyone else notice how many Dunder Mifflin employees were using their computers for anything but work? Creed was playing computer solitaire; Jim and Dwight were playing Internet reality games; and I’m sure that others were surfing all kinds of marginally inappropriate (and certainly not business-related) websites. In addition to the productivity lost to online bill paying, sports web sites and the Wall Street Journal online, unmonitored internet activity could expose Dunder Mifflin to a cornucopia of legal problems. For example, harassment claims brought after employees download crude jokes and forward them to co-workers; download porn; or use offensive images as screensavers. Unmonitored and unrestricted internet usage could also result in the disclosure of sensitive information. And now, as they roll out the new “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” technology, would be the perfect time to take preventative action.

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Categories: HR / Policies

HR Bonanza

March 30, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Last night’s five episode marathon of The Office was an HR executive’s nightmare!  Below, I’ve blogged about the litigation value of each of the five episodes separately — four of which are entirely new entries as the episodes were from previous seasons.  While they aired as individual episodes, if these incidents were to occur in a series over the course of a few weeks as suggested by the special, Dunder Mifflin would be shelling out serious cash.  The episodic litigation values would increase dramatically putting the company on the hook for even more money, not to mention some horrible press.  Definitely an HR nightmare!

Categories: HR

Stay Tuned

March 22, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

LITIGATION VALUE: The jury is still out . . .

NBC will not be airing an episode tonight but be sure to check back next week when NBC will show five episodes containing the most egregious workplace violations imaginable. Toby, our own HR Hero, will be hosting the fun-filled evening.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but in one of the episodes Dwight makes his colleagues publicly disclose their health conditions to help him choose a cheaper health plan. In another episode, Michael decides to conduct his own diversity training by asking employees to act out ethnic stereotypes for their co-workers. I feel safe in saying that the cumulative litigation value for next Thursday will exceed all others. By leaps and bounds.

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Categories: HR

Office Newpeats

March 12, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

I’m excited for this Thursday’s “newpeat.”  NBC will show two previously aired episodes (“Traveling Salesman” and “Oscar’s Return“) combined with new, never-before-seen moments.  One can only assume these never aired moments will include the antics we have come to expect from the Dunder Mifflin gang!  Stay tuned for my analysis on Friday.

Categories: HR

Phyllis and Bob’s Wedding

February 08, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 6 COMMENTS


First off, let’s hear it for the HR Hero in last night’s episode. As he put it, “Toby, yeah!” I’m not sure what is going to happen with that story line, but it can’t be good that Hollywood thinks it’s funny for the HR manager to land an attractive model. Or could it?

So Michael ruins the wedding, who would have guessed it? With Michael’s egregious behavior, you might hope that Phyllis could make a claim against Dunder Mifflin. After all, if she can be fired for boorish conduct at an office party, why can’t she sue the company when Michael ruins her party? But she can’t. Being a jerk is not illegal. As much as I wish that it were, it just is not.

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