Mose Gets A Raise!

July 24, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 5 COMMENTS

Hopefully, the folks at Dunder Mifflin took note of today’s mandated minimum wage increase required under the Fair Minimum Wage Act passed in 2007. As of today, the minimum wage is $6.55; next year, the official federal minimum wage will be increased to $7.25 per hour.

While it’s unlikely that this will affect the wages of any of the Scranton branch employees, this new increase could take a serious toll on the profitability of Dwight’s beet farm operations. If his cousin Mose hears about the increase, Dwight is going to have to find a way to come up with the money to pay Mose’s higher wage — that’s assuming, of course, that Dwight pays Mose at all.

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Sex, Flatulence, and Blogging About Work!

June 12, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS

Dwight Shurte and Creed Bratton from The Office both have blogs. Dwight warns readers that they shouldn’t be reading his blog while they are at work. Employment law attorney Troy Foster reminds HR and employers that they should have policies about employees blogging about work as well as at work.

With another week with no episode of The Office, I had to find something interesting to get your attention!  In that endeavor, I stumbled across a couple of blogs — one by Dwight and the other by Creed.

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Moonlighting: Who’s Left to Push the Paper?

October 19, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Loss in productivity: $70,000 – $100,000/year Discount off of Dietco Supplement: $20/month

Two-night stay at Schrute Farms: Priceless

Once again, Julie is working extra hard this week for one of our clients and has asked me to fill in for her here on the blog. I’m Troy Foster a fellow labor and employment attorney with Ford & Harrison and an avid fan of the show. This week’s episode was classic Dunder Mifflin, I hope you enjoy the post.

Schrute Farms? Dietco Co.? Scranton C2? Now, while our friends at Dunder Mifflin aren’t known for their hard work and dedication, virtually nothing is getting done in the office now. How can it? There’s too much other stuff to do. Our top performer, Dwight, is too busy taking reservations for the farm (today’s frightening and real version of the Bates Motel). After he fills up the guest book, Dwight is busy all weekend long – table building, farming, and even tucking Jim and Pam in with a quick read from Harry Potter – the fun never stops. After chasing Mose around all weekend, it’s no wonder that he is wiped out for work on Monday morning. Michael is also yawning after his long hours at Dietco Co. The miracle diet formula is no miracle for Michael (though it might have been for his employees if he saw a little of himself in his obnoxious boss, Nick). He is so tired that he’s even more distracted than normal, if that is possible. He is unable to even remember Ryan’s presentation – not to mention the company policy that prohibits him from having a second job. In addition to his own desire to do nothing at work, he is affecting others – begging Kevin for gambling tips, and asking Oscar for another cash advance and financial advice.

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The Negotiation Revisited

August 17, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $350,000

Employers who fail to fire employees who tape pepper spray canisters, nunchucks, and throwing stars to the bottom of their desks are playing with fire. Expensive fire. Sure, Roy started it, and I’m glad Dunder Mifflin fired him. But what about Dwight? After all, the man kept weapons at work for God knows how long. And if Roy can prove that Dunder Mifflin knew about them and failed to take action, then he just might have a claim for damages (e.g., eye doctor appointments, pain and suffering, etc.). Maybe Toby should go ahead and start to prepare for this deposition, too, while he is at it.

To make matters worse, Dwight admits having the weapons during Toby’s investigation into the incident. The time has come for Dunder Mifflin to part ways with Dwight. And unlike they did with Roy, the bosses should spring for the fifteen bucks and just FedEx Dwight’s last check to him.

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“The Coup” Revisited

June 01, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $65,000 (but could have been much more)

Having Dwight stand on his desk with the word “liar” hanging from his neck is not what I would consider the most effective method of employee discipline. Nor was tricking him into believing that he got Michael fired. But, without more, Michael’s actions may not be considered to be “utterly intolerable to a civilized community” and, thus, are not actionable in a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

What could be more extreme you ask? Well, after digging around I found some examples. In one case, an Alabama manager allegedly required his employee to keep seeing a management consultant for “training” after learning that the consultant would hypnotize the employee and then ask her to remove her shirt and answer questions of a sexual nature. In another case, a Washington dentist tormented an employee, who routinely regaled the office with stories of her pet pot bellied pig named Walter, by implanting tusks as a temporary dental apparatus while the employee was under anesthesia and then gathering the other employees around to take pictures. The employee didn’t think it was nearly as funny and sued him. In retrospect, maybe Michael’s conduct wasn’t so bad after all….

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The Negotiation

April 06, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 3 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $350,000

Phew – finally a new episode! While any episode of The Office is a good one, it’s nice to have new material to discuss. As always, the gang at Dunder Mifflin did not disappoint with this week’s super-sized episode.

Employers who fail to fire employees who tape pepper spray canisters, nunchucks, and throwing stars to the bottom of their desks are playing with fire. Expensive fire. Sure, Roy started it, and I’m glad Dunder Mifflin fired him. But what about Dwight? After all, the man kept weapons at work for God knows how long. And if Roy can prove that Dunder Mifflin knew about them and failed to take action, then he just might have a claim for damages (e.g., eye doctor appointments, pain and suffering, etc.). Maybe Toby should go ahead and start to prepare for this deposition too while he is at it.

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Categories: Dwight Schrute / Firing

The Injury

March 30, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value $ 30,000 (or if Dwight’s injuries are permanent, then $500,000)

I don’t know whether a concussion suffered when rushing off to “save” your boss after he burns his foot on a George Foreman grill would be considered a workers’ compensation injury, but if it is, Dunder Mifflin (or, more accurately, their insurance carrier) is looking at paying Dwight some money. Under the workers’ compensation laws, Dunder Mifflin is probably on the hook for Dwight’s medical expenses and a percentage of his lost wages. On the bright side, these damages are far less than they would be in a tort action, which, luckily, Dwight would be precluded from bringing against the Company.

And no, a slightly toasted foot is not a disability under the ADA. While many impairments that you never dreamed would be considered a “disability” are often covered by the law, I just can’t see how this one would be. Nevertheless, Michael’s training to promote awareness about individuals with disabilities is probably not going to do much to get Dunder Mifflin out of the hot water it got itself into when Dwight re-did the health plan.

Dwight on SNL

February 23, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 3 COMMENTS

Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend. I’m looking forward to watching it. I’ll post early next week if there’s anything on the show that relates to the blog.

Categories: Dwight Schrute

The Coup

October 10, 2006 - by: Julie Elgar 1 COMMENTS

LITIGATION VALUE: $65,000

Somehow I don’t think that having Dwight stand on his desk with the word “liar” hanging from his neck is exactly what Jan meant when she told Michael to get control of his branch. Nevertheless, while Michael’s reaction was extreme, it will probably not expose the company to significant legal liability. Being a bad boss is not, by itself, illegal. To a point. However, when a supervisor’s conduct rises to the level of being utterly intolerable to a civilized community, then a company could be looking at a large verdict in the employee’s (or, more likely, former employee’s) claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Lucky for Dunder Mifflin, these claims are very hard to win.

Unfortunately, this difficulty does not always stop the disgruntled former employee from bringing a lawsuit. Sure, the judge might toss the case out of court, but the company will still have to pay an attorney $65,000 (or more) to get them to that point. Not surprisingly, most employers have trouble seeing this as a “win.” In the end, treating employees with dignity and respect, even when they royally screw up, will not only prevent liability, but it might just keep the Company out of litigation all together. And most employers would definitely consider that to be a “win.”

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