Breaking up is hard to do

February 18, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: David Wallace, get your metaphorical wallet out. You’ve got settlement checks to write for Erin ($2,500-$5,000 for sexual harassment and potentially a lot more for invasion of privacy), Pete ($5,000-$10,000 for sex discrimination and a touch of IIED), and Alice (the weakest claim, but still worth $1,000 or so for nuisance value).

What a night in Scranton. Dwight has roped Angela into acting as caregiver for his elderly aunt (best quote of the night: “Loose braids reflect a loose character”), and Pam is interviewing for an office manager job (which turns out to be a receptionist position in disguise) for the Michael Scott of the Philadelphia real estate industry. There’s plenty of material there, but I’ll leave that for one of my esteemed colleagues to discuss on re-runs, because I want to talk about the A plot.

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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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A Flush and a Fluke

January 13, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value:  Dwight manhandling Gabe = a pricey negligent retention/supervision lawsuit; Andy trying to convince Oscar to cook the sales books = $700 for an expedited severance agreement and release in full for Andy; Kevin and the Einsteins claiming all the glory at trivia = one priceless fluke.

What happens when an office is $800 short of meeting its sales goal on the very last day of the quarter? For our Scranton friends, it means a road trip to a gay bar in Philadelphia for one epic night of trivia. Anxious to impress Robert California, Andy is desperate to hit his numbers at any price, including buying a carload of paper himself and even asking Oscar to fudge the sales numbers for him.

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No Doom, No Gloom

November 04, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

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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That Fevered Night

October 28, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 2 COMMENTS
Matt Rita

Litigation Value: Not much on the employment law front. But, for many of our readers in Central Daylight Time (you know who you are), the goings-on during — and especially after — the most recent airing of The Office might have given rise to at least the kernel of an emotional distress claim.

Allow this week’s blogger to make an opening disclaimer:  In his lifetime, he has witnessed both the highs and the lows of World Series sixth games. But admittedly, those characterizations are very much a matter of perspective.

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Green Thumb, Brown Nose

October 17, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

“The Garden Party” episode was light on employment litigation but heavy on workplace psychology. Poor Gabe. His capacity for humiliation knows no limits. I wasn’t sure he could sink lower than his public dumping at the hands of Erin last season, but then we witnessed his repeated sycophantic toasts of Robert California. Sad, right?

Maybe not. Before we feel pity for Gabe, what if he’s on to something? Does brown-nosing in the workplace work? Some research suggests that, yes, it does. A 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology concluded that “ingratiation” (read: sucking up) by job interview candidates had a positive impact on the interviewer’s perceived fit, while self-promotion had a nonsignificant impact.

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Awesome!

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

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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A Man of Great Confidence

June 24, 2011 - by: Matt Rita 2 COMMENTS
Matt Rita

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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Still a Disaster, Thankfully

May 20, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 1 COMMENTS
Joshua Drexler

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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Michael Gives Up the Mic

April 22, 2011 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation Value: $0.00 for Gabe’s intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit against Erin. Stanley’s ADA action for his diabetes is primed and ready.

Michael’s final turn hosting the Dundies reminds us why The Office has been a source of so much material since this Blog launched five years ago.  Just about every award could be evidence in a future discrimination or harassment lawsuit — “Hottest in the Office,” “Diabetes Award,” “Cutest Redhead in the Office,” “Extreme Repulsiveness.”  If Michael misses his colleagues, he may get a chance to see them again … at his deposition.

Gabe likely feels aggrieved and may be tempted to sue Erin for the emotional distress she caused by using her acceptance speech as an opportunity to dump him in public. But Gabe should think twice before filing suit. In Sanders v. Rosen, a New York court refused to recognize termination of a romantic relationship as the basis for an emotional distress action. Most jurisdictions, however, do recognize a cause of action for stalking. Move on, Gabe. You should know better than to date a subordinate.

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