Finale

May 17, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

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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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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Bye Bye Bye

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

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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Breaking up is hard to do

February 18, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: David Wallace, get your metaphorical wallet out. You’ve got settlement checks to write for Erin ($2,500-$5,000 for sexual harassment and potentially a lot more for invasion of privacy), Pete ($5,000-$10,000 for sex discrimination and a touch of IIED), and Alice (the weakest claim, but still worth $1,000 or so for nuisance value).

What a night in Scranton. Dwight has roped Angela into acting as caregiver for his elderly aunt (best quote of the night: “Loose braids reflect a loose character”), and Pam is interviewing for an office manager job (which turns out to be a receptionist position in disguise) for the Michael Scott of the Philadelphia real estate industry. There’s plenty of material there, but I’ll leave that for one of my esteemed colleagues to discuss on re-runs, because I want to talk about the A plot.

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The Return of the Nard Dog

February 07, 2013 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

Litigation Value: $0. Though there is all sorts of questionable stuff going on, none of it should expose Dunder Mifflin itself to any claims or liability.

In tonight’s episode, “Couples Discount,” no one really covers themselves in glory.  You’ve got The Office denizens seeking to goof off one last time before Andy returns, and pretending about being in relationships with each other to get discounts on foot treatments. You’ve got Andy covering up with David Wallace that he’s been gone for 3 months. And as far as everyone’s favorite couple, Pam and Jim, are concerned, you’ve got Jim learning that Pam has kept a secret from him relating to her relationship with Brian the boom man — and his reaction is to run back to Philly. Layer on top of that Erin’s awkward efforts to break up with Andy, and all-in-all it was not an uplifting episode.

But hey, you’re not reading this blog to hear me kvetch, you’re here to learn about the labor and employment aspects of the episode. Well, I don’t really see anything here that would put the good folks at Dunder Mifflin on the hot seat. If anything, the company would have the ability to take action against Andy to recoup the funds that he was paid while he was out of the office without authorization. It wasn’t cool for Andy’s co-workers to lie to him about what went on during his absence in order to trip him up when he spoke to Wallace, but there isn’t much Andy could do about that.

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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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What NOT to wear to an interview

September 27, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: $0.00, but only because Pete has a conscience and Daryl is a cinephile.

In last week’s season premier, new guy Pete was compared to Jim, while other new guy Clark was compared to Dwight. I’m all good with the former comparison, but the latter is waaaay off. Dwight beds his women using blunt Shrute charm. Clark’s ruse to seduce Erin was plain creepy. Thankfully Pete stepped in because Andy was clueless.

If not for Pete’s intervention as makeup man, Dunder Mifflin may be defending a lawsuit by Erin for negligence. Consider the facts. Branch manager Andy acquires knowledge that one of his young male employees intends to lure one of his young female employees back to his apartment, ply her with wine, doll her up in sexy outfits, and film her. Andy’s response? Here, take my credit card. (Shaking head sadly.)

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Three Dwight Circus

September 24, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 4 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value: Andy’s vocal hatred for Nelly = fodder for her brewing constructive discharge and breach of contract case; New versus Old Dwight dynamic = possible future age discrimination issues; watching Old Dwight’s jealous alter ego attempt a terrifying stunt in the parking lot to put New Dwight in his place = priceless.

The Office kicked off its final season with quite a bang. With a New Dwight (“Dwight Jr.”) and a New Jim (“Plop”), Oscar’s secret affair with The Senator, growing tensions between Jim and Pam over career issues, and the big reveal about the paternity of Angela’s baby, this season should be an interesting one. Andy is back and relishing his role as Regional Manager except for one small problem–Nellie is still lurking around. Hopefully Outward Bound has not resurrected angry wall-punching Andy.   

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Dunder Mifflin, We Hardly Knew Ye

August 30, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

It is August 30, 2012, the night of a blue moon, and I’m a bit blue with the news earlier in the week that this will be the last season for The Office. So I thought I’d crack open a Blue Moon (OK, not literally — taking some literary license here) and share some thoughts about what made the show — and writing this blog — so enjoyable.

The heart and the soul of The Office, what made it work so well (while also giving us ample material for the blog), was the Michael Scott character. Although he was the Regional Manager, and thus “the boss,” Michael was an underdog, and everyone likes an underdog (except President Snow from The Hunger Games — but I digress). Lonely as a child, unlucky in love, clueless in the extreme about the political sensitivities his comments offended, we rooted for him to succeed — in large part, I think, because we knew that he had the best of intentions and cared deeply for his “family” at work. If his character had not been so sympathetic (as was sometimes the case in the first season), the show would not have enjoyed its success or longevity. Plus, virtually every employee in the office would have sued the company for some sort of harassment or emotional distress if they hadn’t felt the same way.

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