And the Winner Is …

January 09, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0.
The last time The Surplus episode of The Office aired, we talked about Dunder Mifflin’s good behavior (relatively speaking). In the spirit of award season –- specifically the Golden Globes, which are on this Sunday –- let’s give some awards to folks for their exemplary behavior during the episode.

Best Actor – Oscar, for compromising on his demand for a new copier for the larger goal of office harmony. And it doesn’t hurt that he was the only employee dressed like someone from Hollywood. Was that a lavender shirt and a khaki suit coat?

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Take a Seat

December 05, 2008 - by: Dominic Verstegen 0 COMMENTS

Litigation value: $0

While everyone at Dunder Mifflin seemed a little more animated than usual on “The Surplus” episode of The Office, fortunately there was nothing that I saw that anyone did to create liability for the company in terms of a lawsuit. Obviously, I don’t recommend secretly marrying a coworker against her will, but that isn’t going to lead to a verdict against Dunder Mifflin.

Despite this, there were still things that we can learn from “The Surplus.” The thing that stuck out to me the most was Pam’s kissing up to Michael when she was trying to get him to choose new chairs over a new copier. She dolled herself up and made several flattering comments about how nice Michael’s back side looked in those $9 pants.

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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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Pimping Out Pam

May 08, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 4 COMMENTS

HARASSMENT CLAIMS: $200,000 – $300,000.

NEGLIGENCE/PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS: $50,000 – $75,000.

WATCHING ANDY EAT IT IN THE SAND PIT: Priceless.

It is truly my honor to take over this blog for my good friend, Julie Elgar. She has provided us all with great practical and legal tips over the past year, and we will miss her. Though big shoes to fill, I promise to do the same, and I guarantee that we’ll all have fun. As a former HR professional myself, I understand the importance of humor in the face of our daily challenges.

Well, this week’s episode gives me the opportunity to talk about HR Rule #1: Never offer up your employee’s body for bidding. Michael’s attempt to lure Justin to Dunder Mifflin by letting him know that Pam is the “office hottie” and that she will “do” him given her reputation for dating her co-workers is just not good manners. That aside, it is obviously really bad evidence. A less obvious complication is that Oscar (who Michael referred to as “Oscar Mayer Weiner Lover” in last week’s show) was visibly offended. Though not the target of Michael’s comments at the job fair, Oscar could also bring a harassment claim because he took offense to these sexually-charged comments about Pam. And, Michael’s comment when witnessing Pam and Jim making out in the office is generally not the type of reprimand that we advise employers to give employees for such inappropriate conduct. Instead, “kiss her real good” is more probably another sexually-charged comment that is simply the cherry on top of Pam’s (and possibly others’) harassment claim.

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