No nonsense

Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value:  Office romance with the new Regional Manager (and A.A.R.M.) = fodder for a potential sexual harassment claim; eliminating nonsense from the workplace = every human resources manager’s dream; Dwight giving up a milk maid to marry his long-time love and father his beet-loving offspring = priceless.

As John Krasinski explained in a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, Thursday’s episode marked the first half of a two-part series finale for The Office. As a side note, I definitely recommend you check out the interview on www.nbc.com.  The lip-syncing competition, which featured a bearded Krasinski passionately singing “I’ll Make Love to You” to Fallon, was comic gold.

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Merry Mifflin

December 16, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: Lots and lots of coal in everybody’s stockings!

Last night’s episode of The Office was a repeat of the night we were introduced to Pam’s temporary replacement, Kathy. Since my colleague Josh Drexler ably covered that episode when it aired a few weeks ago, I thought I’d just take this opportunity to look back at all the holiday fun our friends at Dunder Mifflin have experienced over the years. Here are my top 10 “Dunder Mifflin Holiday Moments” of the past seven seasons:

10. Playing “Yankee Swap” at the season 2 Christmas party… Michael’s dissatisfaction with his sweetly hand-knit gift from Phyllis led to a free-for-all in which everyone tried to win the iPod he had bought for Ryan (despite a $20 price limit).

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Stand by Me

December 02, 2011 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Litigation Value:  Implementing an antinepotism policy = $800; medical bills for Dwight’s tumble from his secret standing stool = $1,000; applying your “buffalo wings passion” to all aspects of your life = priceless.

Last night’s episode contained some interesting revelations about our friends at Dunder Mifflin Sabre.  Indeed, Creed may be part of a secret suicide cult, Phyllis is prone to “classic room-clearing farts,” Oscar likes to put puppies in ladles for photo purposes, and Creed spends part of his work day playing with a toy helicopter on the roof.  In addition, we learned that there is someone who actually intimidates regional manager Robert California — his wife, Susan.

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He Creeps Me Out, But He Might Be a Genius

Kristin Starnes Gray

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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2010 Dundies

August 27, 2010 - by: Jaclyn West 2 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: A little recognition goes a long way, especially if there’s an unlimited bar tab…

As the weeks roll by, we find ourselves closer and closer to the season premiere and Michael Stott’s last year at the office. But right now, we’re still in the midst of the long, hot summer, and last night was another rerun. Last night we re-watched “St. Patrick’s Day,” which we covered earlier this year. It got me thinking about job satisfaction. In addition to work-life balance, which we discussed on first run, what else do employees need to feel happy in their jobs? Recognition! Now that’s something Michael does very well, especially when the annual Dundie Awards roll around. Here are my picks for 2010:

The Brangelina Award goes to the hottest couple in the office!  Their roller coaster romance gives us plenty to talk about at the water cooler when we should be selling paper. Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor!

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Classic Rewind

January 22, 2010 - by: Chris Butler 6 COMMENTS
Chris Butler

Litigation Value: In the aggregate, $100 million; most of which is punitive damages

OK, so tonight’s episode – The Banker –- didn’t really bring us much new material, but it indeed highlighted five years of near-catastrophic employee-relations failures. As Dunder Mifflin verges on economic collapse, a potential investor dispatches its self-proclaimed “fact-checker” to conduct a due-diligence assessment of the company’s “H.R. liabilities.” While interviewing HR representative Toby Flenderson, the fact-checker poses a series of provocative questions that invoke Toby’s vivid recollection of why he so dearly hates his job. In essence, we rewind the tape a few years. Let’s take a look:

  • Racial/national origin harassment/discrimination: Michael Scott mocking Kelly Kapoor’s Indian heritage.
  • Inappropriate and/or sexually-suggestive language and innuendos: Michael’s skilled reliance on the phrase “that’s what she said” to transform seemingly innocuous comments into sexually charged double entendres; Michael’s lewd references to Stanley Hudson’s teenage daughter; Michael exposing himself to Pam; Meredith Palmer exposing herself to the entire office; and Michael kissing Phyllis Lapin to dissuade her from complaining to human resources about his sexually offensive language, and then immediately rewarding her graciousness with sexually offensive language.
  • Sexual harassment/sexual orientation harassment: Michael kissing the visibly-horrified Oscar  Martinez on the lips to illustrate his tolerance of same-sex relationships; again, Michael kissing Phyllis; and, yet again, Michael’s unbridled references to “that’s what she said.”
  • Age harassment/discrimination: Several mean-spirited references to Creed Bratton’s age and his “distinct old man smell.”
  • Workplace violence: Andy Bernard ramming his fist through the wall; Pam slapping Michael; Kelly slapping Michael; Jim Halpert slapping Dwight Schrute; Dwight punching Michael, and later pounding him in the face with a shoe; Phyllis hurling a wad of paper into Angela Martin’s face; and Oscar shoving Angela.
  • Potential workers’ compensation claims: Michael running down Meredith in the employee parking lot; Andy plunging from a transfer truck into an empty refrigerator box; and Michael ramming the warehouse forklift into a storage rack, causing a cascade of flying metal, boxes, and paper.
  • Health and safety violations: Dwight purposely igniting a trashcan paper fire to instigate an unscheduled fire “drill”; and, again, Michael ramming the warehouse forklift into the storage rack.
  • Property damage/waste of company resources: Michael and Dwight bouncing a watermelon from the office roof onto a parked car; several mutinous employees shoving paper, books, and supplies to the floor; an employee shattering a plate glass window with a toy-gun projectile; again, Michael overturning the storage rack; Jim disassembling Dwight’s desk and contents (classic) and enveloping them in holiday wrapping paper; and Jim encasing Dwight’s stapler in a Jell-O mold.
  • Invasion of privacy/HIPAA violations: Dwight demanding that each employee publicly identify his or her personal medical condition to determine its legitimacy.
  • Supervisor-subordinate romantic relationships/inappropriate public displays of affection: Dwight making out with Angela; Angela making out with Andy; Kelly making out with Ryan; Michael’s painfully inappropriate workplace relationship with his boss, Jan (and discussing his repeated vasectomies before the entire office); and Jim’s and Pam’s eternal office romance, despite Jim’s supervisory role (OK, we turn a blind eye to this because we really like them).
  • Hostile work environment/miscellaneous inappropriate and outrageous behavior: All of the above, and too many to mention.

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Season of Mercy

July 03, 2009 - by: Kylie Crawford 2 COMMENTS

Last night’s Moroccan Christmas episode is one of my favorites, and as usual, it offered plenty of what-not-to-dos.  At the center of the episode was Michael’s forced intervention with Meredith about her alcohol (porn?) addiction.  But there was also something else at play in the episode.  There was some serious bullying going on.

Phyllis finally has the upper-hand with Angela, who she caught having sex with Dwight.  Phyllis bosses Angela around, threatening to tell everyone about their affair, including Angela’s fiancé, Andy.  (Phyllis doesn’t think her actions constitute blackmail unless she sends a formal letter – we’ll save this for another rerun!)  Phyllis orders Angela to put away most of her off-theme nativity scene, get everyone a plate of hummus with fanned pita triangles and fanned napkins, and wear a hair net.  When Angela fights back, Phyllis tells everyone in the office, except Andy (next episode is going to be awkward!), about Angela’s affair with Dwight.

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Oh Baby!

May 15, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS
Troy Foster

Litigation Value: $50,000 (per Buffalo branch employee); $200,000 for various hostile work environment claims.

“Company Picnic,” the season’s final episode, was a good one. Unfortunately, that also means that Dunder Mifflin is on the hook for several claims from some of its employees.

One might think that the wrongful conduct took place at the volleyball tournament. And while the conduct of many Dunder Mifflin-ers –- especially management –- was out of line at the volleyball tournament, there wasn’t anything actionable that occurred there (assuming Phyllis and Pam weren’t actually injured).  The hostility, the near injuries, and the plain old dirtiness of Charles Minor and David Wallace sending Pam to the hospital just to get her out of the game . . . it was all not very nice, but none of it was enough to hold the company liable in court.

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So You Think You Can Dance?

May 08, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS
Troy Foster

Litigation Value:  $250,000

The “Café Disco” episode of The Office might as well have been called “The Hostile Work Environment.” Or “The No Work Environment.” Dunder Mifflin Scranton turned into a coffee house dance bar at the expense of any corporate productivity.

A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere. An isolated comment is generally not enough to create a hostile work environment. That’s why it’s tough to assign an accurate value to a half hour episode of The Office sometimes. Not this week.

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Misery Loves Company; Plaintiffs Love Dunder Mifflin

March 06, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 2 COMMENTS
Troy Foster

Litigation value: $ 100,000


On the Blood Drive episode of The Office, Michael took things to the next level, or at least got creative in finding new ways to do something actionable, by stopping work and throwing a Valentine’s Day mixer. Sure, in the past Michael has said crude things, turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior, and engaged in dangerous office relationships, but I don’t think he’s ever gone out of his way to get others involved like he did this week.

Even though no one actually complained during the episode, there could have been many unintended victims of Michael’s forced mixing. Anyone at the office that day had a viable claim against the company, even if they weren’t specifically forced to mingle. We’ll call it $100,000 for now.

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