Time to say goodbye (for now)

Series Litigation Value: various harassment, discrimination, and bizarre workers’ compensation matters = astronomical; future employment matters due to Dwight taking over as Regional Manager = enough to keep Dunder Mifflin’s attorneys busy for many years to come; seeing the older, hopefully wiser, family man version of Michael in the final episode = priceless.

After years of breaking down Dunder Mifflin’s employment law issues, your loyal bloggers will each (in turn) bid a final goodbye to the series with a farewell post. But don’t get too teary–we’re only saying goodbye for now until our new EntertainHR blog begins in June. For my final farewell to The Office, I can’t help but look back on my favorite Dunder Mifflin moments and all that I will miss about this hilarious series.

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Finale

May 17, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Bless your heart if you’re still keeping track at this point.

This blog has always focused on bad behavior.  We tease out employment law issues by writing about the characters who do things in the workplace that one simply does not do. So last night’s series finale of the The Office poses quite a challenge in that most of the characters, with a few notable exceptions, exhibited exemplary behavior.

Take Dwight, for example. There was hope early on when he gave Kevin his “Get Out”  that he might fuel a few lawsuits. It was not to be. By the end of the episode, Dwight was careful to turn Pam and Jim’s departure into a termination just so he could offer them a generous severance package. After all these years, Jim has gone from Dwight’s mortal enemy to his bestest mensch.

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No nonsense

Litigation Value:  Office romance with the new Regional Manager (and A.A.R.M.) = fodder for a potential sexual harassment claim; eliminating nonsense from the workplace = every human resources manager’s dream; Dwight giving up a milk maid to marry his long-time love and father his beet-loving offspring = priceless.

As John Krasinski explained in a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, Thursday’s episode marked the first half of a two-part series finale for The Office. As a side note, I definitely recommend you check out the interview on www.nbc.com.  The lip-syncing competition, which featured a bearded Krasinski passionately singing “I’ll Make Love to You” to Fallon, was comic gold.

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Living the dream

May 03, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: None.

I think The Office gods have been reading my blog entries and decided they’d give me an hour-long episode with very few legal issues.

In last night’s episode, three main characters made significant career moves. Dwight received the manager promotion, Andy quit his job to pursue fame, and Jim decided to stay in Scranton rather than pitch his other business nationwide. These actions alone create very few legal issues for the company to address.

Dwight’s promotion will eventually, of course, lead to all kinds of good legal issues to discuss. I’m sure there will be all kinds of weird directives, decisions, and comments that will keep this blog busy as the season winds down. I’m guessing that Angela’s confession to Oscar that she’s in love with Dwight, her supervisor, will lead to an entire blog about sexual harassment involving supervisors. That blog post will discuss how even if the relationship truly is consensual (i.e., not a quid pro quo situation where a supervisor expects the relationship to continue in exchange for certain treatment), the problem remains that the relationship creates a conflict of interest. In other words, Angela’s co-workers might sense a certain level of favoritism toward her. That blog will also discuss how the level of sexual banter may increase in the workplace when consenting employees are in a romantic relationship in the office. This could lead to sexual harassment claims, and when a supervisor is involved, many of a company’s traditional affirmative defenses are inapplicable. Unfortunately for me, that blog is only theoretical. Maybe Angela and Dwight will not get together in the end?

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Categories: Michael Scott

Speaking my truth about team-building

April 26, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Aside from a potential workers’ compensation claim for Toby, from having a paper airplane thrown directly into his eye, Dunder Mifflin is getting off light this week.

This week, we all got to relax a bit, as the Dunder Mifflin employees let their hair down and their competitive beasts out and took part in a paper airplane-throwing contest. The contest was structured tournament-style, much like March Madness, and ended in a showdown between Dwight and Angela, which is always good fun. Of course, Toby ended up with a paper airplane injury to his eye, which could give rise to a workers’ compensation claim — even though he wasn’t actually working when he incurred the injury — if he can prove that he was injured while participating in an activity that his employer made mandatory. Of course, he’s a bit culpable too, wandering across the “playing field” while Pam was throwing her airplane. Cue the collective “Tobyyyyyyy” groan.

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Categories: Michael Scott

The Beginning of the End Revisited

April 18, 2013 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

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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Stanley Knievel

April 11, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation value:  Stanley can sue Dwight blind for his bull dart assault.

This is an employment law blog.  So when tonight’s episode opened, and I saw that Dwight had shut down the building’s elevator for repair, leaving the stairwell as the only option to reach Dunder Mifflin’s offices, I thought it might be interesting to explore the ADA’s regulations on elevators in public buildings.  Or maybe Stanley’s adamant refusal to attend the school district sales pitch was an opportunity to discuss the definition of insubordination. Such interesting choices.

And then Dwight shot Stanley with a triple dose of bull tranquilizers, encased him in bubble wrap, and slid him down the stairs headfirst.

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Promos, but no privacy…

April 05, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Unknown

Last night’s episode of The Office gave the characters their first glimpse into their upcoming documentary. Surprisingly, this seems to be the first time any of them contemplated that the world (literally) will be able to see their personal and professional antics that have entertained all of us for the past 10 years (well, mildly entertained us for the past three or four).

Pam sums up her beliefs when she asks, “So, we haven’t had privacy in 10 years?” Putting aside the issue of whether they all consented to the documentary producers in the first place (and what that consent included), workplace privacy is a hot-button issue given the widespread use of technology at work. Although there are no broad federal workplace privacy statutes, the common law and various state statutes affect how employers should monitor their employees.

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Categories: Michael Scott / Privacy

Bye Bye Bye

March 29, 2013 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Michael’s Antics over the Years = Too Many Zeros to Count; Collateral Damage from the Dwight/Jim Feud over the Years = Some Unfortunate Workers’ Compensation Claims; Getting a Super-Sized Finale = Priceless.   

Given that my esteemed colleague, Jaclyn, has addressed the Moving On episode twice now, I thought I would focus on our upcoming finale. The word is that, although we will get to see Kelly and Ryan again before all is said and done, our beloved Michael Scott will not be returning for the final episode. I would like to think that he and Holly are too busy happily raising the children Michael has long dreamed of (and even considered adopting on his own until he heard about the pesky waiting period). Regardless, here is my wish list for the finale.

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Todd Packer’s revenge

March 18, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS

In last week’s episode, this blog’s all-time favorite character returned with gifts. And when I say “gifts,” I mean gifts for the writers of this blog; not so much for the Scranton branch. That’s right, Dunder Mifflin’s all-time leader in litigation liability for the company, Todd Packer, returned to the show for (what just has to be) his final hurrah.

The disgruntled former employee returned ostensibly to apologize as part of a 12-step process. Pam quickly sees that he is just insulting his former co-workers “in the form of apologies.” Nevertheless, Packer provides cupcakes to make up for his past behavior. Although the cast members initially agreed not to, everyone except Pam ended up eating the cupcakes. Of course, the cupcakes were all laced with different drugs including laxatives and hallucinogens.

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Categories: Michael Scott

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