The Taming of the Schrute

February 26, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 3 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $50,000

The last time we wrote about the Crime Aid episode of The Office, we advised that Dunder Mifflin might not be on the hook for any potential judgments for anything that happened in this episode. But on further review, I’m not so sure that was right. It’s entirely possible that a jury could find Dunder Mifflin responsible for Dwight Schrute’s continued antics that culminated this week with him letting the air out of her tires (completely unnecessary and the funniest part of the episode).

After all, Dwight is part of management, and it’s not like this was the first time (or second time, or third time…) when his conduct has been grossly out of line. Plus, it’s one thing to put a garbage bag over Meredith’s head and assault her -– Meredith isn’t a sympathetic victim. When you start messing with Phyllis, you might upset a jury. And Bob Vance.

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Reductions In Farce

February 19, 2009 - by: Troy Foster 1 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Troy Foster examines “The Baby Shower”  episode of The Office and determines that while Dunder Mifflin might not be liable for sex discrimination, it probably needs to take  a look at the Scranton crew’s work habits.

Litigation Value: Still currently $0.

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Lose Weight, Gain a Lawsuit

September 26, 2008 - by: Troy Foster 4 COMMENTS

Litigation value: ($500,000 when all is said and done, mainly to Phyllis and Kelly)

Wow, it certainly didn’t take the folks at Dunder Mifflin long to get into midseason form! And from a liability perspective, that’s not good.

When corporate initiated a weight-loss competition among all the branches, the Scranton branch sprang into action. While some people slacked off after a while, others like Kelly took the competition very seriously, even buying a tapeworm from Creed. (By the way, what was that if not a tapeworm? I’m guessing one of those worms at the bottom of a tequila bottle.) Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, Michael and Dwight took the competition too seriously, stepping over several lines on their way to certain liability and money damages. (And let’s not forget that Phyllis called Corporate to complain about Dwight making her walk five miles, and the response was to have Michael read an apology/clarification paragraph statement -– so let’s put a few bucks on them, too.)

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Phyllis vs. The Wolf

July 10, 2008 - by: admin 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $2,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress (caused by seeing Al Roker dance a jig before the commercial break)

Watching the cast of The Office take on a group of American Gladiators in Celebrity Family Feud was just too great an opportunity for me to pass up last night. I was happy to see our friends from Scranton win it all, especially since it involved seeing Phyllis challenge The Wolf to an arm wrestle. Unfortunately it was broken up before a winner was determined, which is too bad because I think it could have gone either way.

I noticed a whole lot of muscle flexing and other intimidating behaviors going on during last night’s show, especially from the Gladiator side. As I watched Titan jiggle his quads, I was reminded of the proverbial schoolyard bully, scaring kids into handing over their lunch money. Thankfully those days are over for most working adults. But while you
might think that it is not a problem, workplace bullying is a real phenomenon, and it can create some problems for your company.

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Categories: Phyllis Lapin

Awards Season

January 18, 2008 - by: Julie Elgar 10 COMMENTS

The Golden Globes were canceled, and it isn’t looking so good for the Oscars. So, in the spirit of the awards season, I have decided to give out a few awards of my own. And I’d like to invite all of you to be the Academy. My first category is “Best Plaintiff in an Employment-Based Lawsuit,” which honors the Dunder Mifflin employee who has been most egregiously wronged by the Company. And the nominees are:

Kevin: Kevin is nominated for his experience in having to admit that he has anal fissures in a room of his coworkers during Season Two’s “Health Care.”

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Phyllis’ Wedding

July 27, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

As I said before, being a jerk isn’t illegal.  Typically.  And Michael’s conduct, although extremely self-centered and rude, probably does not violate anything more than the accepted standards of conduct in polite society.  But rude conduct at work can be more problematic.  At least according to a recent case from the Delaware Supreme Court. Recently, the court held that an employee could bring suit against his co-workers for injuries he received in a prank gone wrong.  According to the case, co-workers detained the plaintiff in the bathroom and wrapped him from ankles to shoulders in duct tape (the case didn’t explain why but it is a story that I am dying to hear).  The plaintiff was injured and sued his colleagues.  Breaking from established precedent of dismissing such claims under the “workers compensation exclusivity” doctrine, the Court said that workplace horseplay can be so far removed from the scope of the prankster’s employment that it takes it out of workers compensation system and into court.

Some food for thought the next time that Jim decides to trick Dwight using Pavlov’s theories.

Phyllis and Bob’s Wedding

February 08, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 6 COMMENTS


First off, let’s hear it for the HR Hero in last night’s episode. As he put it, “Toby, yeah!” I’m not sure what is going to happen with that story line, but it can’t be good that Hollywood thinks it’s funny for the HR manager to land an attractive model. Or could it?

So Michael ruins the wedding, who would have guessed it? With Michael’s egregious behavior, you might hope that Phyllis could make a claim against Dunder Mifflin. After all, if she can be fired for boorish conduct at an office party, why can’t she sue the company when Michael ruins her party? But she can’t. Being a jerk is not illegal. As much as I wish that it were, it just is not.

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