Kevin’s Loan

December 23, 2008 - by: Dominic Verstegen 1 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0

It’s week 2 of our review of The Office webisodes. This time, we watched “Kevin’s Loan.” In this particularly hilarious webisode, it is revealed that Kevin has a gambling debt. He devises a scheme to pay off his debt by getting a loan to open up a mobile ice cream business. Unfortunately, there are some problems with his plan, although not with the name of one of his flavors — Fudge the Magic Dragon. Kevin enlists the help of Darryl from the warehouse, and hilarity ensues.

From a liability perspective, the main problem I see is that Kevin walks the line of committing fraud. Of course, since Dunder Mifflin isn’t in on the act with him, the company is in pretty good shape. One issue that is worth examining is: What should Oscar and Darryl have done when they became aware of what Kevin was doing on company time?

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Let The Office Olympic Games Begin!

August 08, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

The world is fully in Olympics mode, including our friends in Scranton, who are surely reliving their own Games of the First Dunder-Mifflin Olympiad.

In the episode from the second season, Jim and Pam entertain themselves (while Dwight and Michael are away buying Michael’s condo) by throwing objects into Dwight’s coffee mug. They discover that others around the office have their own games, and the Dunder-Mifflin Olympiad is born.

Not surprisingly, this episode was based on the writers’ personal experience. Surely, we’ve all participated in our own office games of some sort, although hopefully we haven’t played a lot of Oscar’s and Kevin’s “hateball” (or Kevin’s “who can put the most M&Ms in their mouth” game, for totally different reasons, of course). And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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The Deposition: Michael’s Secrets Revealed!

June 19, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

In “The Deposition” episode of “The Office,” Michael Scott tries to testify against his employer, Dundler Mifflin, after his girlfriend Jan Levinson sues the company for wrongful termination.  While Michael is being deposed, his e-mail, personal diary, and performance reviews are  used. Employment law attorney Troy Foster reminds us that “that nothing at work should ever be considered completely private.”

I could write about Michael’s deposition all year long.  But for this post, I’ll focus on Michael’s rights.  Yes, I said Michael’s rights to privacy.  Not only did some e-mail get used in the deposition but also his performance review and even his diary were used.

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Well, Isn’t That Special!

May 22, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 2 COMMENTS

Last week’s episode of The Office, “Goodby Toby,” sure gave us plenty to chew on.  So, I’m taking advantage of this week’s break to turn to another Dunder Mifflin pickle presented by the finale — Kevin.  As we saw, Dwight planted the seed with Holly that Kevin is mentally disabled.  Kevin’s natural demeanor certainly drove the point home.  His disturbing (and often inappropriate) grin, his signature wave, his tone (or odd drone), and his apparent excitement over Holly’s pride in him for driving himself all just seemed like the traits of the Kevin that we all know and love — until Dwight’s joke!

Even though I think Dwight might be onto something (and I’ll never look at Kevin the same again), Dunder Mifflin could get into hot water with a potential claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Even if Kevin is not disabled, the fact that Dunder Mifflin management (Holly) is treating him as though he were leaves us with no legal difference.  Suppose Michael gives Kevin a poor performance evaluation, demotes, or even fires him (not a big stretch).  Kevin can now claim that the adverse action was only taken because Dunder Mifflin “regarded” him as disabled and discriminated against him because of it.

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Health Care

March 30, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $500,000

If I were Kevin, I would start daydreaming about how to spend the windfall I will receive from the litigation lottery.  Off the cuff, I’d guess that he has a great claim for damages after being forced to publicly disclose that he has anal fissures –  especially if Dunder Mifflin later takes some sort of adverse action against him.  It should (but obviously does not) go without saying that employers can’t ask their employees to disclose confidential medical information in a large conference room in front of their peers.  The Americans with Disabilities won’t let you do it.  It just won’t.  In fact, it prohibits an employer from making medical inquiries of employees in all but the most limited of circumstances.  And, believe it or not, one of those circumstances is not trying to figure out the new health insurance plan.

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