No nonsense

Kristin Starnes Gray

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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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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Draw me a butt

January 31, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation Value: Frank can collect from Pam and Dwight the cost of cleaning paint off his truck.

“Shouldn’t someone get fired for this?”

That’s the question Pam asked while confronting the large orange butts that someone (Frank) spray-painted on her warehouse mural in “Vandalism,” the second of two new episodes tonight. Of course someone should get fired, but Pam and Dwight will be joining Frank in the unemployment line after drawing revenge art on his truck. A trail of poop? Pam, you’re better than that.

Frank’s behavior during his HR interview and in the parking lot raises a more serious issue — workplace violence. The man is dangerous. A January 2011 FBI bulletin notes that in most cases workplace violent offenders do not suddenly “snap.” Instead, the study claims, they follow a path that can begin with behavior such as brooding or making odd writings and drawings. Frank seems well on his way down the path. His near physical attack on Pam was one of the show’s rare departures from any hint of comedy. In the real world, Dunder Mifflin would contact the police, terminate Frank immediately, and notify building security to watch for him on or around the property.

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Cheer or fear

December 28, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: $0.00 for a drunk, passed out (and likely concussed) Daryl, but Jim has a cause of action for battery against Belsnickel.

My colleague, Doug Hall, wrote about the “Dwight Christmas” episode three weeks ago when it first aired.  I agree with him that employers need to be careful with their holiday social events to minimize potential liability.  However, it appears that many states, including Pennsylvania, will not impose what is commonly called “social host” liability.

In the Congini case, the employer hosted a Christmas party where it served free alcohol to employees and guests.  A visibly intoxicated employee left the party in his car and was seriously injured in an accident.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the employer could be held liable, but only because the drunk employee in that case was a minor.  The court reaffirmed the general rule that an adult host serving alcohol to his adult guests should not be liable for injuries they subsequently cause or suffer.

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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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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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That’s What Friends Are For

March 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: Nothing much to speak of, although Dwight will hopefully value Jim a little bit higher now.

Well, Dwight has a lot to thank Jim for after this week. I’d like to think that he might improve his attitude and behavior toward Jim — and the rest of the office, for that matter — but I don’t see that happening. Still, after Jim saved Dwight’s job, one hopes Dwight will be grateful. Discovering that Robert California was planning to tank the retail store idea and make Dwight the scapegoat — it turns out Robert hated the idea, but couldn’t veto it outright because “the great Jo Bennet” wanted retail stores — Jim showed an admirable determination to save Dwight’s career, despite Dwight’s incessant needling and taunting about his “victory.”

Personally, I wouldn’t have blamed Jim if he walked away after the first attempt to reach Dwight. (Being called a six-foot Hobbit had to hurt.) After all, Dwight hasn’t made much of an effort to be a good co-worker over the years we’ve known him. Who among us would have been sorry to see him go, if we had to work with him? Still, some of my favorite “Office” moments are those when Dwight and Jim team up, or when we see flashes of possibility for a friendship to develop between them. It probably never will — there’s too much bad blood there — but Jim’s gesture last night certainly gave me a lot of respect for him. (And for Pam, too, for encouraging Jim to help Dwight out.)

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Tighten Your Saddles

February 24, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 1 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value: Cathy showing Jim the “Talla-Nasty” = yet more fodder for Jim’s sexual harassment lawsuit; five dots = a murky texting area and potential lawsuit for Darryl; and watching Dwight work himself into a human bedbug trap = priceless.

This After Hours episode has the gang engaging in conduct that should make any human resources professional cringe. Tighten your saddles, because it is bound to be a bumpy ride. While the Scranton branch is working late, the Florida team is hitting the hotel bar scene for some debauchery. As we have mentioned in previous posts, the fact that the conduct occurs outside the workplace does not necessarily free an employer from liability, particularly when a supervisor instructs her employees that bar attendance is “compulsory.” 

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Perfectenschlag

February 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: Nothing too outrageous last night, but are we seeing the beginnings of a couple of sexual harassment claims for Jim and Val?

Another week has gone by, and our favorite paper and printer sales team has heroically managed to continue to avoid discussing the bizarre behavior of their CEO at his party a few weeks ago. (What happens at Robert California’s, stays at Robert California’s, I guess.) But we’re certain to see more R.C. shenanigans in the coming weeks, because the head office is planning to open storefronts and Andy has tasked Dwight with coming up with a crack sales team to concoct a concept and open the stores. Dwight picked a group that, arguably, contains the five most dedicated and talented workers in the office — and Andy immediately rejected Dwight’s team because he couldn’t run his operation for three weeks without those folks. Andy told Dwight he could take a group of employees he deemed “less essential” — including Kevin and Kelly.

Naturally, Dwight was upset that Andy rejected his choice team and saddled him with, in Dwight’s opinion, a group of useless people. But since Andy’s the boss, Dwight couldn’t override him. So Dwight did what he does best — undermined Andy’s authority. Dwight announced the team in a way that he knew would upset the group, then unleashed the angry employees on Andy. Andy was forced to retreat from his previously chosen team, and he and Dwight picked the group together — Stanley, Jim, Erin, Ryan and Kathy. (Andy, this isn’t legal advice, but just a tip — Dwight wants your job and he’d love to undermine you all the way out the door. If you continue putting him into positions where he can assert his “authority” over his co-workers, he’s going to capitalize on those opportunities and you’ll come off looking like you can’t control him. Dwight has always been a problem employee and probably always will be, barring some major personality change. It’s fine to try to engage an employee like that — in fact, it’s a good idea. At the end of the day, though, everyone needs to be clear about the fact that you are the boss, not Dwight.)

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A “Get-Together”

January 20, 2012 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS
Matt Rita

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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