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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Not-so-nice lice

January 11, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: Nada, but a close shave; it’s lucky Dwight is clumsy and didn’t manage to insecticide-bomb his co-workers.

Whoa, Mama. It’s been a rocky start to the New Year for the staff of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office. With Jim working part-time and spending days on end in Philadelphia, Pam is struggling to cope with the kids (Cece and Phillip at home, and everyone else at work) all on her own. And things go from bad to worse when Cece comes down with a case of lice, which she spreads to Pam, who unwittingly gives the nasties to half the office.

Meredith is the first victim, and the entire office jumps to the conclusion that she’s to blame, while Pam guiltily keeps quiet about Cece’s condition. (Well — wouldn’t you assume it was Meredith?) Taking the bull by the horns, Meredith shaves her head, while Erin conducts a lice removal seminar for the rest of the victims (Angela, Oscar, Creed, Pete and Stanley) — leading to some hilarity as the infected group spends the day with mayonnaise on their heads.

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Cheer or fear

December 28, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: $0.00 for a drunk, passed out (and likely concussed) Daryl, but Jim has a cause of action for battery against Belsnickel.

My colleague, Doug Hall, wrote about the “Dwight Christmas” episode three weeks ago when it first aired.  I agree with him that employers need to be careful with their holiday social events to minimize potential liability.  However, it appears that many states, including Pennsylvania, will not impose what is commonly called “social host” liability.

In the Congini case, the employer hosted a Christmas party where it served free alcohol to employees and guests.  A visibly intoxicated employee left the party in his car and was seriously injured in an accident.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the employer could be held liable, but only because the drunk employee in that case was a minor.  The court reaffirmed the general rule that an adult host serving alcohol to his adult guests should not be liable for injuries they subsequently cause or suffer.

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Die Hard … with a Christmas vengeance

December 06, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

Litigation Value: $50,000 or so, depending on how much harm comes out of an essentially unsupervised holiday party

It is the annual Christmas episode of The Office, and it’s bittersweet as Jim and Pam talk about how this will be the last Christmas party for the both of them at Dunder Mifflin Scranton–much like it will be our last Christmas show with this group. The episode feels a bit thrown together at the last minute compared to previous Christmas shows, just like the office’s party itself. The entire office has somehow overlooked that today is the day for the Christmas party, forcing the party-planning committee to scramble to come up with something.

In the absence of any better idea, the planning committee (minus Angela) seizes on Dwight’s idea to hold a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas, just like he experienced as a child. Dwight manages to put on quite the production, complete with a visit from Belsnickel, the fur-wearing, switch-wielding Christmas gift-giver. (I, along with the denizens of The Office, was surprised to find out that Belsnickel is part of a real southwestern German tradition.) In the meantime, Jim is anxious about getting to Philly to start his new job, while Andy and Erin drift further apart, with Erin finding a shoulder to cry on, and to watch Die Hard with, when Andy informs her that he plans to stay a couple of extra weeks in Barbados (or is it the Bahamas) to “figure this life thing out.”

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Don’t research and drive – “Andy’s Ancestry”

October 05, 2012 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS
Adam Klarfeld

Andy and Nellie’s feud continued in last night’s episode (“Andy’s Ancestry”) and Nellie’s revenge strategy was actually kind of funny. In response to Andy’s directive to research his (and eventually everyone else’s) ancestry, Nellie made up various historical figures that were supposedly related to the staff members. Andy was initially excited to learn about his shared ancestors with Michelle Obama; but after Oscar pointed out that Andy’s ancestors therefore likely owned slaves, Andy became a little conscious of his “bossiness” for the rest of the episode.

While Andy’s continued harassment of Nellie may or may not be actionable (after all, it does not seem to be based on any protected class; he just doesn’t like her), the biggest threat to the company in this episode seems to be Nellie’s texting and driving. When she starts to read a text from Andy while driving Pam’s car, Mrs. Halpert wisely grabs the phone. Nevertheless, texting and driving is a major problem for all of us. In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that 28% of all traffic accidents were because of talking or texting on cell phones while driving. 

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Drum Roll, Please

September 15, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS
Matt Rita

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

Kristin Starnes Gray

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
Doug Hall

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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Ain’t No Business Like Snow Business

December 10, 2010 - by: Chris Butler 2 COMMENTS
Chris Butler

Blawg 100Litigation Value: Not much, yet; but, potentially millions if Dwight goes on a murderous rampage.

Is hurling snowballs really that big a deal?! Last week, it was the Cincinnati Bearcats mascot; this week, it’s Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert — one gets arrested, the other two undergo corrective counseling.

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Re-Acting Koi

August 13, 2010 - by: Chris Butler 2 COMMENTS
Chris Butler

Additional (Hypothetical) Litigation Value: $225,000 to Michael Scott for workers’ compensation benefits and medical expenses.

Neck deep in an August hot enough to boil cement, and we’re dealt yet another repeat. In fact, I extensively covered this episode last October (see Acting Koi), and I’m unsure what else can be said of Michael Scott’s unrelenting tomfoolery. So, let’s modify the script …

Let’s assume that, instead of haphazardly falling into the koi pond,Koi Jim Halpert — the quintessential prankster — had playfully nudged Michael into the drink. Let’s further assume that Jim’s horseplay caused Michael to hurt himself (I’m thinking a well-deserved cracked skull). Would Michael’s head injury be covered by workers’ compensation? Likely, yes. Would Michael be able to then sue Jim for causing his injury? Likely, no.

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