Back to Business

April 30, 2009 - by: Dominic Verstegen 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0

Since Troy is away on business, I’m guest-blogging again. And what a week to do so –- there’s a lot to talk about from the “Casual Friday” episode.

Although many HR folks can appreciate HR director Toby Flenderson’s dilemma dealing with employees taking casual Friday too far, there wasn’t a lot in terms of litigation value with everything that was happening. Arguably, Meredith Palmer flashing everyone for what seemed like an eternity could lead to a hostile work environment claim. But Toby did step in and rectify the situation pretty quickly, which would help prevent a claim. He also dealt with Angela Martin’s complaint about Oscar Martinez pretty well –- if you don’t like Oscar’s sandals, don’t look at his feet.

Actually, Angela’s comment about Oscar looking like he just got off the boat could have been a pretty good start to a hostile work environment claim, but she didn’t say that in front of Oscar, so even that wouldn’t end up costing Dunder Mifflin anything.

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Take One for the Team

April 09, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $60,000

There was just too much going on last night on The Office. Two Episodes, multiple story lines, and several unlawful actions that could lead to big money damages against Dunder Mifflin -– and the new Michael Scott Paper Company.

On the “Dream Team” episode, Michael and Pam set out to start the new company.  Unfortunately for Michael, the company got off on the wrong foot when his own Nana refused to invest in the company, and when he gave Pam all she needed to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the new firm. It was one thing for Michael to wear his bathrobe to greet Pam for her first day at the company; but when he flashed her a few minutes later, he created a hostile work environment. Pretty good first hour for the company. Let’s call that $50,000, just because Michael hasn’t had a chance to drive the verdict any higher yet.

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Quitting Time

March 20, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $60,000

Michael, Michael, Michael. What went wrong? What happened to turn you into this new, bitter man? And why couldn’t you have quit before you cost the company thousands more in potential judgments?

Before we get to Michael’s actionable conduct, let’s first touch on the new guy, Charles Minor. Fortunately, it is almost impossible for a manager to file a claim for sexual harassment, because the new Dunder Mifflin vice president was the target of some pretty disturbing (read: awesome) and unwanted flirtation. Kelly made no bones about her quest to get the “black George Clooney” to buy her a prime rib; and Angela wasn’t much better, stealing Charles’ scarf and being overly creepy and affectionate toward him. Even though Charles may not have a claim against the company, though, others might. The risk in this situation is that Kelly’s and Angela’s shenanigans could lead to an unintended victim claiming to be offended by their actions.

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Reductions In Farce

February 19, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Troy Foster examines “The Baby Shower”  episode of The Office and determines that while Dunder Mifflin might not be liable for sex discrimination, it probably needs to take  a look at the Scranton crew’s work habits.

Litigation Value: Still currently $0.

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Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers

February 13, 2009 - by: Dominic Verstegen 3 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Dominic Verstegen discusses Dunder Mifflin’s liability for its employees’ actions when Michael, Dwight, Kevin, and Oscar all cross the line and invade the privacy of their coworkers on the “Lecture Circuit, Part II” episode of The Office.

Litigation Value: $45,000

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Hot or Not?

January 23, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 5 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $0

In the Prince Family Paper episode of The Office, the employees of Dunder Mifflin Scranton act inappropriately and potentially create liability for the company on two different fronts. But fortunately, as seems to be the case quite often this season, no one does anything to definitely create liability for the company. That doesn’t mean we approve of their conduct, though, as literally everyone in the office was in on the shenanigans.

First, let’s deal with Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. Like in the 8th grade, Michael and Dwight’s spy mission to Prince Family Paper was inappropriate, awkward, and just felt wrong. However, as legitimate competitors, Dunder Mifflin is entitled to compete with Prince Family Paper, even if they’re slimy about it. And the customer list Michael and Dwight got from Mr. Prince could have been a trade secret –- if he hadn’t just given it to Michael so freely. So, at the end of the day, Michael’s and Dwight’s behavior might not have been ethical, but it was probably legal.

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And the Winner Is …

January 09, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0.
The last time The Surplus episode of The Office aired, we talked about Dunder Mifflin’s good behavior (relatively speaking). In the spirit of award season –- specifically the Golden Globes, which are on this Sunday –- let’s give some awards to folks for their exemplary behavior during the episode.

Best Actor – Oscar, for compromising on his demand for a new copier for the larger goal of office harmony. And it doesn’t hurt that he was the only employee dressed like someone from Hollywood. Was that a lavender shirt and a khaki suit coat?

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Take a Seat

December 05, 2008 - by: Dominic Verstegen 0 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $0

While everyone at Dunder Mifflin seemed a little more animated than usual on “The Surplus” episode of The Office, fortunately there was nothing that I saw that anyone did to create liability for the company in terms of a lawsuit. Obviously, I don’t recommend secretly marrying a coworker against her will, but that isn’t going to lead to a verdict against Dunder Mifflin.

Despite this, there were still things that we can learn from “The Surplus.” The thing that stuck out to me the most was Pam’s kissing up to Michael when she was trying to get him to choose new chairs over a new copier. She dolled herself up and made several flattering comments about how nice Michael’s back side looked in those $9 pants.

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Dunder-Sponsored Drinking

November 14, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 4 COMMENTS

Cost of drinks: $500
Litigation Value: $100,000 – $1,000,000 (depends on how seriously someone gets hurt and who it is)
Watching the Drunken Debauchery: Priceless, but probably not worth the risk.

The problem that caught my attention during the “Business” Trip episode of The Office was the company-sponsored drinking event that led to Andy and Oscar drunk-dialing Angel and Michael going home with the concierge. When employees get drunk at office parties, the company can be held liable for their actions.

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