That Fevered Night

October 28, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Not much on the employment law front. But, for many of our readers in Central Daylight Time (you know who you are), the goings-on during — and especially after — the most recent airing of The Office might have given rise to at least the kernel of an emotional distress claim.

Allow this week’s blogger to make an opening disclaimer:  In his lifetime, he has witnessed both the highs and the lows of World Series sixth games. But admittedly, those characterizations are very much a matter of perspective.

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California Scheming

October 20, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  More fodder for potential sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and national origin claims, but it could have been worse. At least Andy didn’t run naked through the parking lot with a doughnut on his ding-dong — that would have put me off of Krispy Kreme for awhile.

Was really looking forward to being able to discuss a new episode of The Office following the summer reruns and … NBC puts up a rerun of “The Incentive” against the World Series. Que sera. My colleague Josh Drexler gave his take on the episode (check it out at http://blogs.hrhero.com/thatswhatshesaid/2011/09/30/southern-exposure/), and now it’s my turn.

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Grease Lightning

October 07, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: allowing office staff to take over the warehouse and invent a new loading method = several bizarre Workers’ Compensation claims; Andy asking Oscar about his “wildest fantasy guy” while choosing new warehouse personnel = yet more fodder for Oscar’s potential claims; and controlling your own destiny = priceless.

This week’s episode started off with the warehouse crew winning the lottery and promptly resigning to pursue other dreams, including opening adult entertainment venues and creating “an energy drink for Asian homosexuals.”  Darryl is less than thrilled for his former warehouse co-workers, given that he used to participate in the lottery before his promotion and the crew won using the numbers from his birthday.  Darryl is too depressed to complete his task of hiring a replacement warehouse crew, which leads Andy to ask for volunteers to ship the day’s orders.  With Dwight, Jim, Erin, and Kevin covering the warehouse, what could go wrong?  One damaged wall, one mostly empty shipping truck, one lost customer, several injuries, and numerous greasy paper boxes later, Darryl and Andy both learn to have a greater appreciation for experienced warehouse crews.

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Southern Exposure

September 30, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: The exposure promises to be vast when California finally takes the plunge.

Who is this Robert California? What are his credentials? When did he arrive in Scranton? Where did he come from? How long until he does something highly illegal?

Clearly, a lot of mystery surrounds Mr. California. Whatever his secret may be, he is inspiring the members of the Scranton branch to rise to new and greater levels of productivity, camaraderie, and ultimately and most importantly, sheer lunacy. For example, Andy has taken to motivating the team by offering up his buttocks as a personal billboard. Lucky for him, his subordinates were merciful and chose not go with their initial choice for Andy’s tattoo – the image of a baby crawling out his derrière.

And it is not only grand acts of lunacy that Mr. California is inspiring. There’s an uncomfortable buzz around him that affects everyone in his path. Erin kisses him on the cheek after handing him a cup of coffee. Andy calls him dad. Kevin is prone to shouting and angry confrontations.

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Andy for the Win!

September 23, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 4 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: More fodder for everybody’s negligent retention suit as Dwight shows more predilections toward violence in the workplace, but otherwise, not much litigation expected from this episode – just a host of employee morale issues. I’m sure Robert California will be harassing someone before long, though.

Well, friends, the wait is finally over – last night we met the new Sabre Scranton branch manager! The selection committee chose Robert California, played by James Spader… but after one look at the office he drove straight to Florida and talked Jo into giving him her CEO job instead. That’s one persuasive guy. I guess I can see why the selection committee liked him… well, maybe liked is too strong a word. I can see why they were intrigued. California then chose an internal candidate to fill the manager’s seat – none other than that singing phenom, Andy Bernard!

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Drum Roll, Please

September 15, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

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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Give My Regards to Andy

July 01, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 5 COMMENTS

As you know, dear readers, this summer Ford & Harrison has taken on the gargantuan task of helping Sabre sift through the many eager and hopeful candidates for Michael Scott’s replacement. We’ve already discussed Dwight Schrute and Darryl Philbin, from among the internal applicants, and outside candidate Robert California. But there’s one more internal candidate, and I’d like to focus on him today. That’s right, paper fans, I’m talking about Scranton’s own a cappella wunderkind, Mr. Andrew Bernard.

At first, I was worried that Andy was going to shoot himself in the foot (or the eardrum — groan, sorry) because he seemed so set on playing it cool. Andy clearly wanted to be considered for the manager’s job, but didn’t want to come across as wanting it too badly. Unfortunately for Andy, he didn’t get much of a shot at all, since Gabe — who had come completely unhinged after Erin’s rejection — was set on derailing any chance Andy may have had. Gabe twisted Andy’s words, even turning Andy’s insightful suggestion about improving communication within the office against poor Nard-Dog. And when Jo suggested giving Andy a look, mentioning his educational credentials, Gabe immediately dismissed the idea. Personally, I’m hoping that with Gabe now back in Florida, the rest of the search committee will recognize that Andy didn’t get a fair shake in his interview, and give him another chance to show why he should run the branch.

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And the Beet Goes On

June 02, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

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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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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In the Company of Gleeks

January 06, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Likely no liability against Sabre/Dunder Mifflin, but Gabe could have some property damage claims against Michael and Andy

Only two more weeks until new episodes of The Office return, and I’m eager to find how the writers will wrap up Michael Scott’s career. Quick question for you Officeheads out there: How do you think they will engineer Michael’s departure from the show? Promoted out of Scranton? Leave the company altogether? And what of Holly? Post a message with your ideas and let’s compare notes.

In the meantime, we are treated to an episode that aired back in November, “The Viewing Party,” which was ably blogged by my colleague Brian Kurtz. Given that virtually the entire episode occurs away from the Scranton Business Park, I am going to focus on a couple of issues regarding what can happen when co-workers gather outside the workplace.

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