Still a Disaster, Thankfully

May 20, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 1 COMMENTS

car wreckLitigation Value: minimum $250,000 if Dwight gets the job.

C’mon, let’s be honest. You watched the season finale of The Office for the same reason that millions of fans watch NASCAR. You knew a pile-up was coming. And you kind of hoped the crash would be fantastically terrible — so long as no one was terribly injured.

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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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It’s a WUPHF World

November 20, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Probably no liability to Sabre, although several employees stood to lose their investments in Wuphf.com.

This week’s episode of The Office focused on Dunder Mifflin/Sabre’s own budding social media king, Ryan Howard. We first learned about Ryan’s new social media company, WUPHF, last season when the most recent IT guy, “Glasses,” mined the employees’ hard drives and we all discovered how many ways Dunder Mifflin employees have dreamed up to waste company time. Well, it looks like Ryan has continued to work on his personal dream of further expanding the social media landscape and creating a world where none of us is ever safe from Kelly’s calls, IMs, Tweets, Facebook messages, and LinkedIn invitations. Ryan’s goal of creating a social media empire has continued to evolve on company time and using company resources, much to Erin’s chagrin. (Was I the only one who LOL’ed when Erin whispered “All that color” with intense emotion after Ryan unveiled his WUPHF poster, created on Sabre printers, no doubt?)

But wasting company time and resources isn’t what I want to talk about today, although I could write a novel about the ways Scranton employees have come up with to put Dunder Mifflin’s resources to unsanctioned use. (My personal favorite — the Dunder Mifflin Olympics from Season 2. I dream of medalling in Flonkerton.) And that certainly was on my mind as I watched this episode — after all, Jim devoted a large chunk of the episode to adapting Jo’s book into a way to torture Gabe over the phone. Jim did have a good point: Changing the policy to put a cap on commissions did remove his incentive to work hard, once he had reached the cap, and Gabe’s failure to recognize the possible productivity issue may come back to bite the company later. But we can talk about that another time, since I expect Jim’s reign of unproductive terror is not over.

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Who’s In Charge Around Here?

November 11, 2010 - by: Brian Kurtz 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $0.00

Who’s the boss?

In the opening scene of the “Viewing Party,” the staff is crowded around a TV in the conference room watching local coverage of the Scranton Strangler. Gabe walks in and directs everyone to return to work. They ignore him. Later, in the kitchen, Kevin refers to Gabe as Michael’s “boss” . . . in front of Michael. Employees scatter. At Gabe’s Glee viewing party, Michael and Gabe face off in the ultimate test of masculinity and dominion — control over the clicker.

It goes without saying that an organization cannot function properly without effective leadership. Legally, it’s a toxic situation. Frontline supervisors don’t get any training and don’t know how to deal with employee complaints of harassment or discrimination. Policies and procedures are ineffective, not followed, or simply nonexistent. There is no consistent treatment of employees. Supervisors retaliate against employees. It all invariably leads to costly and disruptive litigation.

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Lady GaGa’s Door is Open

October 29, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: More fodder for Darryl’s racial harassment claim and $1,000 to re-write Sabre’s Open Door Policy.

Where to begin, where to begin? I knew as soon as I saw the Hallowe’en costumes that we were in for quite an evening. And I must say, I agree with Kelly — can’t Michael just let the employees enjoy an office party, for once, without making it about all of his issues? Tonight, Michael was upset because Darryl went over his head to go behind his back (and stab him in the heart, I might add).

Some time back, apparently, Darryl had the idea that the warehouse delivery drivers should be able to make sales. He presented this idea to Michael, who squashed it. (Probably because it didn’t involve dressing up in costume like the Golden Ticket idea from a few seasons back.)  Not having gotten anywhere with Michael, Darryl then took the idea to Gabe. First, I have to point out, Darryl did go to Michael first, so Michael’s anger at being circumvented is slightly misplaced.

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Promotion and Self-Promotion

October 01, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: No liability to Dunder Mifflin/Sabre, but plenty of room for improvement in behavior, as always.

In the second week of Season 7 of The Office, Sabre miraculously escaped without an obvious lawsuit. For this shocking development, I’m inclined to credit the fact that Michael Scott spent most of the episode locked in the break room, being counseled by HR manager Toby Flenderson and unable to wreak havoc on the rest of the business.

Now although this counseling arrangement hasn’t led to catastrophe (yet), I think it’s an absolutely terrible idea. No matter how qualified Toby is, and I think we can all agree that with a degree in social work and time spent in a seminary he is qualified, Michael hates him. I was amazed that Toby was as successful as he was, considering that Michael sincerely believes Toby is his arch-nemesis.

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Brawl in the Family

September 23, 2010 - by: Chris Butler 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Not much; yet.

Kicking off Season 7, tonight’s premiere teaches us a valuable lesson — the perils of nepotism in the workplace. Nepotism in its simplest form is “favoritism” toward relatives, without regard to merit. Michael Scott’s misguided decision to employ his jackwagon of a nephew, Luke, as an office assistant illustrated nearly all that’s wrong with workplace nepotism. Michael completely ignored Luke’s utter disregard of the most basic of his responsibilities — from botched Starbucks and ice cream runs to blatant insubordination to hoarding important FedEx packages in the trunk of his clapped-out Honda Civic — until it quickly caused a mutiny among the Scranton staff. Only when confronted en masse did Michael attempt to discipline Luke; by spanking him!?!?

While not necessarily illegal, among the prime complaints that companies practicing nepotism typically face is the obvious lack of fairness toward those who are not related to the decisionmaker. Perceived favoritism of a relative often creates dissatisfaction and reduced morale among workers. And, employees who are awarded and promoted solely because of their familial relationships are more likely to be underqualified for the positions they are expected to fill, leading to an erosion of leadership skills and contributing to the demoralization of more deserving candidates. In sum, when workplace nepotism is present, employees often show less enthusiasm, have a lesser incentive to diligently or proficiently perform their jobs, become embittered and less productive, decide to work elsewhere, or, most importantly, become so disgruntled that they end up filing a lawsuit under an alleged discrimination or hostile work environment theory.

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Give ‘Em The Old Razzle Dazzle

September 03, 2010 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Training on Diversity and Harassment = $5,000; Settlement of Countless Employee Claims = a Shocking Amount; Years Worth of “That’s What She Said” Jokes = Priceless.

With Michael’s final season quickly approaching, last night’s repeat got Michael Scottme thinking about all my favorite Michael moments over the seasons. While Michael can be a human resources nightmare, he certainly has made us laugh (when we weren’t cringing).  Here’s a list of my top 10 favorite examples of Michael’s “dash of razzle dazzle” management style. Who knows? Maybe TBS will even include a few of them during its Labor Day marathon of The Office.
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Job Posting

July 29, 2010 - by: Brian Kurtz 6 COMMENTS

Alas, repeats. My able colleague, Jaclyn West, wrote about this week’s episode — The Chump — in her excellent post of May 14. But fear not. There is big news this week that demands its own post. NBC has confirmed that Steve Carell will leave The Office when his contract expires in 2011. Michael Scott’s seven-year reign as Scranton branch manager is coming to an end.

Michael Scott This blog has cause for concern. At least 80% of the potential liability we find in each episode is attributable directly to Michael Scott. Who can replace him? We need someone who can be combination leader/lawsuit-magnet. We need the next anti-Toby. Who’s ready to step up and be the new “World’s Best Boss” in Scranton? Consider the candidates:

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The Michael Scott School of Business

July 09, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: An education on management from the master (of disaster) … priceless.

The Office didn’t air in my little corner of the world last night, and I’m currently battling symptoms of withdrawal. So I decided to take a little walk down memory lane and relive some of my favorite lessons from Season 6. Remember, back in Season 2, when Michael gave Ryan the benefit of his many years of management experience through a series of cliches? What lessons would Michael share with us from this season?

Gossip: Michael divulges Stanley’s secret — he’s having an affair! — to the entire office. Feeling guilty, Michael makes up false rumors about everyone in the office, telling the office that Kelly has an eating disorder, Andy is homosexual, and Pam is pregnant. Turns out, Pam really is pregnant. Lesson learned: Talk is cheap … for Michael, anyway. Maybe not so much for Dunder Mifflin.

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