A “Get-Together”

January 20, 2012 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Call it what you will — a get-together, party, or bacchanalia. By any name, tonight’s gathering at the soon-to-be-former home of Robert California could prove costly for both Dunder Mifflin Sabre and its chief executive.

Are you ready for some meatballs?”  At night’s end, The Office‘s figurative answer to that literal question by Stanley (a/k/a Dwight’s carnivorous co-conspirator) was definitely “No” — that is, if the exodus of swimmers from the indoor pool of their au naturel boss was any indication.

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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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Can’t Beet a Garden Party

December 29, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Zilch. An episode blissfully free of employment law problems!

Tonight’s episode — the last of 2011 — brings up a reprise of “The Garden Party,” previously blogged by my colleague Brian Kurtz.

Most of the action takes place outside of the usual office setting, at Dwight’s bucolic beet farm/budding party venue. In an effort to impress both Robert California and his parents, Andy decides to throw a garden party — with “Connecticut casual” as the dress code. My favorite running joke in the episode involves Dwight’s slavish devotion to a book on how to throw a garden party, not knowing that it was penned by Jim (under the nom de plume “James Trickington”). I know there will be a “tableau vivant” at my New Year’s Eve party!

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Merry Mifflin

December 16, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Lots and lots of coal in everybody’s stockings!

Last night’s episode of The Office was a repeat of the night we were introduced to Pam’s temporary replacement, Kathy. Since my colleague Josh Drexler ably covered that episode when it aired a few weeks ago, I thought I’d just take this opportunity to look back at all the holiday fun our friends at Dunder Mifflin have experienced over the years. Here are my top 10 “Dunder Mifflin Holiday Moments” of the past seven seasons:

10. Playing “Yankee Swap” at the season 2 Christmas party… Michael’s dissatisfaction with his sweetly hand-knit gift from Phyllis led to a free-for-all in which everyone tried to win the iPod he had bought for Ryan (despite a $20 price limit).

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There Was Talk of Oatmeal

December 09, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Surprisingly, despite the free-flowing shots and porcupine quills, the legal risks associated with the most recent Dunder Mifflin Sabre holiday party ultimately proved to be relatively low.  What “holiday” am I referring to?  Well, just ask Stanley.

If only more employees could be like Kevin — not wanting to put anyone out, while content to sate themselves with apple cinnamon and maple brown sugar (in one bowl, with whole milk).  But alas, at this time of year, many of us have watched co-workers (over)indulge other appetites.

In Pennsylvania, where our favorite paper company (occasionally) conducts business, Section 4-493 of the Liquor Code makes it unlawful to “permit any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to be . . . furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated.”  Long before Oscar relieved him behind the bar, Robert should have known that Erin and Meredith had reached (or exceeded) their respective limits.  But to the credit of both him and Andy, the company’s upper management — such as it is — saw to it that the most impaired team members made it home safely.  Call it a best practice.

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Stand by Me

December 02, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Implementing an antinepotism policy = $800; medical bills for Dwight’s tumble from his secret standing stool = $1,000; applying your “buffalo wings passion” to all aspects of your life = priceless.

Last night’s episode contained some interesting revelations about our friends at Dunder Mifflin Sabre.  Indeed, Creed may be part of a secret suicide cult, Phyllis is prone to “classic room-clearing farts,” Oscar likes to put puppies in ladles for photo purposes, and Creed spends part of his work day playing with a toy helicopter on the roof.  In addition, we learned that there is someone who actually intimidates regional manager Robert California — his wife, Susan.

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All’s Fair in Love and War

November 18, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Dunder Mifflin seems to have escaped the week without major liability. But that doesn’t mean that everyone behaved.

Another week, and Andy is still looking for ways to motivate and inspire his team. You’ve got to hand it to him: his analogy of business as war is, at least, more logical than most of the stuff Michael used to come up with. In an effort to bring the office together and get them motivated to attack their competition with renewed vigor, Andy organizes a trip to Gettysburg, complete with pink hats that read, suggestively, “DM does GB.” (This might have been more obviously obnoxious to someone who doesn’t work in D.C. I’m a bit desensitized to tour groups with bright matching apparel.) About half of the office decides to accompany Andy on his meticulously researched battlefield tour… but, as usual, there’s plenty of strife to go around.

Dwight accuses the Gettysburg staff of covering up information about the northernmost battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Schrute Farms. As he regales Erin with stories of his interpretation of Civil War history, Oscar admonishes Dwight not to fill “the poor girl’s head” with nonsense because “she doesn’t know any better.” Fortunately, Erin missed the snarky comment – but I didn’t. This isn’t the first time that Oscar has behaved in a condescending manner toward his coworkers. In an earlier episode, Jim mentioned that Oscar is known around the office as “Actually,” due to his penchant for correcting people. Oscar, a little friendly advice: sure, there’s no law against being a know-it-all, but you might want to consider playing a little bit nicer with your co-workers. For instance, what if you ever wanted to jump ship and find a new job? Plenty of employers will reject an otherwise qualified applicant because they don’t think that the applicant’s personality would mesh with the office, or they believe the applicant would be unpleasant to have around all day. And that’s not unlawful. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, Oscar.

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Funny Business

November 11, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: minimum $300,000 if Dwight is retained.
Once again, Dwight Schrute illustrates well what it means to “cross the line” while at work. He even raised the bar on inappropriate behavior at the Scranton branch, a feat we heretofore believed impossible. For those of you who missed this week’s episode, I’ll briefly describe.

Pam becomes fixated on whether Jim is attracted to a new employee, Kathy, who is training to replace Pam temporarily while she is out on maternity leave. Jim vigorously denies any such attraction, but Pam ultimately slides into a state of paranoid lunacy. She makes a deal with the devil to learn the truth at all costs – unleashing Dwight for the task. At that point, we knew we were in for a good time. Give Dwight free reign to do anything and you will not be disappointed. Or, I should say, we will not be disappointed as the antics ensue.

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No Doom, No Gloom

November 04, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Sabre had better continue socking money away for a settlement with several female employees for their sexual harassment claims against Gabe. First poor Erin, and now “Warehouse Val” has to put up with Gabe’s creepy courtship. Robert may want to ship Gabe back to Tampa before he does any real damage. And Andy’s dance moves aren’t helping matters.

Well, I’ll start with the cold open and just give myself a little pat on the back for predicting that Andy’s management style would be musical. Deciding that the office needed an end-of-the-day ritual, Andy instituted a new policy of singing “Closing Time” with his coworkers each day. Problem is, they don’t know the words, or just don’t care to sing along. Andy’s attempts to get people in the singing spirit with inappropriate dance moves . . . cringe-worthy, to say the least. Andy, I’ll be your lawyer here. If you’re going to try to turn your subordinates into a singing group, please don’t incorporate a towel into your dance routine. Thanks.

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