No Doom, No Gloom

November 04, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Sabre had better continue socking money away for a settlement with several female employees for their sexual harassment claims against Gabe. First poor Erin, and now “Warehouse Val” has to put up with Gabe’s creepy courtship. Robert may want to ship Gabe back to Tampa before he does any real damage. And Andy’s dance moves aren’t helping matters.

Well, I’ll start with the cold open and just give myself a little pat on the back for predicting that Andy’s management style would be musical. Deciding that the office needed an end-of-the-day ritual, Andy instituted a new policy of singing “Closing Time” with his coworkers each day. Problem is, they don’t know the words, or just don’t care to sing along. Andy’s attempts to get people in the singing spirit with inappropriate dance moves . . . cringe-worthy, to say the least. Andy, I’ll be your lawyer here. If you’re going to try to turn your subordinates into a singing group, please don’t incorporate a towel into your dance routine. Thanks.

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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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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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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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He Creeps Me Out, But He Might Be a Genius

Litigation Value: likely to skyrocket with Robert California’s new sex-fueled approach to paper sales.

The word around The Office is that James Spader will be returning next season as Robert California, a character Paul Lieberstein (a.k.a. Toby) has described as “this uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior.”  It appears he’ll be hired as the new manager only to take over the Company and become its new CEO in the blink of an eye. As a fan of Spader and his quirky role on Boston Legal, this blogger could not be more excited about this casting development.

When we last saw Robert on the season finale, he had some unusual advice for the sales team. “There is no such thing as a ‘product.’ There is only sex. Everything is sex. You understand what I’m telling you is a universal truth.” As my fellow blogger, Matt Rita, pointed out in his recent post, this certainly does not bode well for the Company’s litigation costs. I am sure Robert will give us plenty of material for this blog. To return the favor, here is my advice (or universal truths) to Robert on dealing with the gang at Dunder Mifflin Sabre.

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A Man of Great Confidence

June 24, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 2 COMMENTS

With summer officially upon us, we resume the daunting task of helping the search committee sift through the would-be successors to Michael Scott. Turning our focus to outside candidates, this post evaluates a man whose ego is as big as the state for which he is named: Robert California.

Delivering a Walken-esque performance, James Spader‘s character dominates the interview process. When it appears that his experience selling deep-sea drilling and other refinery equipment has little to do with Dunder Mifflin’s paper business, he deftly shifts the discussion to “universal truths,” literally defining away the very existence of products. By interview’s end, Mr. California has the committee members answering his (largely rhetorical) questions, lending credence to Gabe’s assessment that he may be overqualified.

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Dwight. Pray. Love.

June 16, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0.00.  But Dwight needs to put at least $20 in the collection plate.

Sometimes The Office does not take place in the office. Such was the case in this week’s repeat broadcast of “Christening,” which takes place on a Sunday at Jim’s and Pam’s church. As guests file in, Dwight Schrute hands out his business cards with a whispered reminder of their need to buy paper. I’m pretty sure it’s not unlawful for Dwight to engage in selling activities at a house of worship. Tasteless, tacky and inappropriate, but not unlawful.  Conversely, how should an employer deal with an employee who wants to engage in religious activities in the workplace?

The general rule is that an employer has an obligation to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would create an undue hardship. So, does a security company with a strict grooming policy have to permit a Rastafarian applicant to wear his dreadlocks? Does a manufacturing company with a rotating weekend schedule have to excuse a Jewish employee who cannot work on Saturday? Can a pharmacy terminate an employee who refuses to dispense contraception?  Can Dunder Mifflin stop Angela from proselytizing to the Party Planning Committee (OK, made that one up)?

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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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