A Flush and a Fluke

January 13, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Dwight manhandling Gabe = a pricey negligent retention/supervision lawsuit; Andy trying to convince Oscar to cook the sales books = $700 for an expedited severance agreement and release in full for Andy; Kevin and the Einsteins claiming all the glory at trivia = one priceless fluke.

What happens when an office is $800 short of meeting its sales goal on the very last day of the quarter? For our Scranton friends, it means a road trip to a gay bar in Philadelphia for one epic night of trivia. Anxious to impress Robert California, Andy is desperate to hit his numbers at any price, including buying a carload of paper himself and even asking Oscar to fudge the sales numbers for him.

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Sabotage!

January 05, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

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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Green Thumb, Brown Nose

October 17, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

“The Garden Party” episode was light on employment litigation but heavy on workplace psychology. Poor Gabe. His capacity for humiliation knows no limits. I wasn’t sure he could sink lower than his public dumping at the hands of Erin last season, but then we witnessed his repeated sycophantic toasts of Robert California. Sad, right?

Maybe not. Before we feel pity for Gabe, what if he’s on to something? Does brown-nosing in the workplace work? Some research suggests that, yes, it does. A 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology concluded that “ingratiation” (read: sucking up) by job interview candidates had a positive impact on the interviewer’s perceived fit, while self-promotion had a nonsignificant impact.

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Grease Lightning

October 07, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: allowing office staff to take over the warehouse and invent a new loading method = several bizarre Workers’ Compensation claims; Andy asking Oscar about his “wildest fantasy guy” while choosing new warehouse personnel = yet more fodder for Oscar’s potential claims; and controlling your own destiny = priceless.

This week’s episode started off with the warehouse crew winning the lottery and promptly resigning to pursue other dreams, including opening adult entertainment venues and creating “an energy drink for Asian homosexuals.”  Darryl is less than thrilled for his former warehouse co-workers, given that he used to participate in the lottery before his promotion and the crew won using the numbers from his birthday.  Darryl is too depressed to complete his task of hiring a replacement warehouse crew, which leads Andy to ask for volunteers to ship the day’s orders.  With Dwight, Jim, Erin, and Kevin covering the warehouse, what could go wrong?  One damaged wall, one mostly empty shipping truck, one lost customer, several injuries, and numerous greasy paper boxes later, Darryl and Andy both learn to have a greater appreciation for experienced warehouse crews.

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Drum Roll, Please

September 15, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

To prepare us for next week’s season premiere of The Office, NBC concludes the summer rerun schedule with a replay of last season’s finale. The intrigue and chicanery surrounding the search committee’s efforts have been well documented in prior posts dating back to the spring. And, my fellow bloggers and I have thoroughly vetted both the internal candidates to succeed Michael Scott (including Kelly Kapoor, Dwight Schrute, Darryl Philbin and Andy Bernard) and the outsiders who were interviewed (such as David Brent, Fred Henry and Robert California). Now, with changes to the show’s cast well known, it’s all over but the shouting. (Somebody give me a “BOBODDY!”)

The ascendancy of a new regional manager in Scranton will almost certainly change the workplace “vibe” at Dunder Mifflin. Compared to the ostentatious style of Steve Carell‘s beloved character, James Spader‘s alter ego will likely seem brusque. But, so long as Robert California treats everyone with the same degree of condescension, the risk of employment litigation should be no greater than it was before. Then again, if Pennsylvania were to become one of the growing number of states to propose laws against workplace bullying, we could soon see the case of Kevin Malone, et al. v. Sabre filed in the Common Pleas Court. We’ll have to watch the upcoming episodes before trying to quantify that potential liability.

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Bippity Boppity Give Darryl the Zoppity

Next on our list of possible candidates for Michael Scott’s recently vacated position is Darryl Philbin, also known as “Mittah Rogers” (but only by Michael). Darryl has come a long way since we first met him in Season 1 as he watched Dwight suddenly emerge from a box in the warehouse. Here’s my list of pros and cons for Darryl as boss.

Pros

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And the Beet Goes On

June 02, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

In the words of the incomparable Monty Python troupe – now for something completely different. With the season over and Michael departed, I decided that, rather than review a rerun, I’d share some thoughts about one of the putative candidates to replace Michael. I’ve decided to focus on the character we all love to hate, the beet farmer from birth, the senpai of his dojo – Dwight Kurt Schrute III.

If desire for the job were the only requirement, Dwight would be a shoo-in.  The week that he spent as Acting Manager clearly was one of the highlights of his life – a period he described as one of “maximum happiness” – and he went to extraordinary lengths in an effort to be reconsidered for the position after being disqualified for accidentally shooting Andy, including wrapping himself in bandages and bribing members of the search committee.  He also could lay claim to the position based on his skills as a salesman, which would be one of the best examples of the Peter Principle in action.  Dwight would be an unmitigated disaster as Manager of the branch on so many levels including, for our purposes, with respect to potential employment law liability.

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Straight Shooter

May 14, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 8 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Take out your checkbook, Jo. Major bucks to Andy for negligent retention and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Dwight should be prepared to pony up as well, since Andy will be sure to hit him with assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. Andy might even find himself the owner of a beet farm.

GunfighterWOW is all I can say. Who else saw this coming? We’ve expressed our concern about Dwight’s weapons stash before and worried that his predilection for keeping things like nunchuks and Chinese throwing stars squirreled away around the office could lead to a serious incident of violence. This week was a very close call. But let’s start from the beginning.

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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 and Holly, Sitting in a Tree

April 08, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 3 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: A narrow escape from Michael burning the office down (twice) and, as always, plenty of lost productivity while the employees held a garage sale, played “Dallas” and helped Michael propose to Holly.

Since last night’s “Office” was another rerun, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about the “Garage Sale” episode. This, folks, was the big one. The epic proposal that we have all been waiting for. Now, I know I’ve given Holly a pretty hard time about her relationship choices. And I’m not saying, even now, that I approve of an HR rep dating within the office. But I’m also an “Office” fan and I’ve waited a long time for Michael to find some happiness. So I’m going to take off my employment lawyer hat for a moment and confess that I am giddy about Michael and Holly finally getting engaged.

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