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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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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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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Awesome!

September 08, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

With just two weeks to go until the new season begins, I wanted to make sure we give proper attention to another potential candidate for Michael’s position (once Robert California vacates it and proceeds to rule the Company and then the world) — Kelly Kapoor. She has gone through a number of transformations since slapping Michael in “Diversity Training.” Has the minority executive training program helped Kelly to become a rising star? Gabe certainly learned his lesson when he failed to take Kelly seriously as a candidate. In case Kelly does indeed fill Michael’s large shoes, here is my top 10 list of things our friends at The Office should keep in mind.

1.  You better hope you raised your hand for Kelly when asked whose side you were on in the Kelly/Ryan divorce drama.

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Bippity Boppity Give Darryl the Zoppity

Next on our list of possible candidates for Michael Scott’s recently vacated position is Darryl Philbin, also known as “Mittah Rogers” (but only by Michael). Darryl has come a long way since we first met him in Season 1 as he watched Dwight suddenly emerge from a box in the warehouse. Here’s my list of pros and cons for Darryl as boss.

Pros

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Lady GaGa’s Door is Open

October 29, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: More fodder for Darryl’s racial harassment claim and $1,000 to re-write Sabre’s Open Door Policy.

Where to begin, where to begin? I knew as soon as I saw the Hallowe’en costumes that we were in for quite an evening. And I must say, I agree with Kelly — can’t Michael just let the employees enjoy an office party, for once, without making it about all of his issues? Tonight, Michael was upset because Darryl went over his head to go behind his back (and stab him in the heart, I might add).

Some time back, apparently, Darryl had the idea that the warehouse delivery drivers should be able to make sales. He presented this idea to Michael, who squashed it. (Probably because it didn’t involve dressing up in costume like the Golden Ticket idea from a few seasons back.)  Not having gotten anywhere with Michael, Darryl then took the idea to Gabe. First, I have to point out, Darryl did go to Michael first, so Michael’s anger at being circumvented is slightly misplaced.

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2010 Dundies

August 27, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: A little recognition goes a long way, especially if there’s an unlimited bar tab…

As the weeks roll by, we find ourselves closer and closer to the season premiere and Michael Stott’s last year at the office. But right now, we’re still in the midst of the long, hot summer, and last night was another rerun. Last night we re-watched “St. Patrick’s Day,” which we covered earlier this year. It got me thinking about job satisfaction. In addition to work-life balance, which we discussed on first run, what else do employees need to feel happy in their jobs? Recognition! Now that’s something Michael does very well, especially when the annual Dundie Awards roll around. Here are my picks for 2010:

The Brangelina Award goes to the hottest couple in the office!  Their roller coaster romance gives us plenty to talk about at the water cooler when we should be selling paper. Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor!

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Aged Like a Fine Wisconsin Parmesan

June 10, 2010 - by: Doug Hall 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: More fodder for a potential lawsuit by Oscar Martinez; at least $10,000-15,000 to help Dunder Mifflin muddle through the competing Darryl-Dwight complaints — and the only reason it is that low is that, at the end of the day, neither is likely to want to escalate their dispute further.

Tonight we were treated to a repeat — or should I say “finely aged” — episode, “The Meeting.” The main story line — in which Michael Scott tries to undercut Jim Halpert’s efforts to get promoted to management, only to learn that Michael would have been promoted as well — doesn’t really involve potential employment law liability to the company. There is plenty to talk about, however, in the “B” plot and the cold open.

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Litigation Value:  training management on whistleblower protections — $10,000; settling customer claims due to the flaming printers — more than Sabre would like to think about; finding out Holly’s coming back — priceless.

The printers aren’t the only things heating up at Sabre. Jo’s mission to root out the whistleblower had more than one person sweating in Scranton. Tensions were high given Pam’s admission to a reporter’s wife, Darryl’s misguided attempts to pick up a not-so-cute copy editor, Kelly’s infamous tweet, and Andy’s video. Unfortunately for Sabre, a variety of laws protect employees who choose to “blow the whistle” on employer wrongdoing.

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Blowing the Whistle

May 06, 2010 - by: Jody Ward-Rannow 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $50,000 for the office meeting Michael called to discuss his sex life with his employees.

In this week’s episode of The Office, we saw two storylines, both of which provide interesting employment law issues: Michael’s quest to find out if Donna is cheating on him and Darryl’s attempt to play a prank on Andy that turns out to resemble a whistleblower complaint.

Michael is concerned that his new girlfriend, Donna, is cheating on him because he thinks she is too good-looking for him. So, in classic Michael fashion, he holds an office meeting to ask everyone what they think. Of course, Michael cannot resist telling the office how much sex he is having with Donna. This meeting is an obvious problem in the office. Michael, the boss, forced his subordinates to listen to him talk about his sex life. If any person in that room was offended, Michael will have a sexual harassment complaint on his hands. This type of sexual harassment requires that the harassment was “severe and pervasive” so as to create a hostile work environment. The meeting shown in the episode likely wasn’t severe enough to create a hostile work environment (and most employees actually seemed to participate willingly), but if Michael continued his banter throughout the day, then the employees could have a claim.

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