That’s What Friends Are For

March 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nothing much to speak of, although Dwight will hopefully value Jim a little bit higher now.

Well, Dwight has a lot to thank Jim for after this week. I’d like to think that he might improve his attitude and behavior toward Jim — and the rest of the office, for that matter — but I don’t see that happening. Still, after Jim saved Dwight’s job, one hopes Dwight will be grateful. Discovering that Robert California was planning to tank the retail store idea and make Dwight the scapegoat — it turns out Robert hated the idea, but couldn’t veto it outright because “the great Jo Bennet” wanted retail stores — Jim showed an admirable determination to save Dwight’s career, despite Dwight’s incessant needling and taunting about his “victory.”

Personally, I wouldn’t have blamed Jim if he walked away after the first attempt to reach Dwight. (Being called a six-foot Hobbit had to hurt.) After all, Dwight hasn’t made much of an effort to be a good co-worker over the years we’ve known him. Who among us would have been sorry to see him go, if we had to work with him? Still, some of my favorite “Office” moments are those when Dwight and Jim team up, or when we see flashes of possibility for a friendship to develop between them. It probably never will — there’s too much bad blood there — but Jim’s gesture last night certainly gave me a lot of respect for him. (And for Pam, too, for encouraging Jim to help Dwight out.)

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Cheap Labor

December 31, 2010 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Class action by day-laborers hired by Dwight = $500,000; penalties for violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act = $50,000.

[Tonight's entry was authored by Josh Drexler, whom you'll be hearing more from in the coming year.]

While watching last night’s two repeat episodes, I noticed that Dwight Schrute potentially exposed Sabre/Dunder Mifflin to significant liability in the opening scene of “Sex-Ed” (originally aired on October 14, 2010).  Viewing the episode from a different angle, I note that Dwight revealed that he regularly hires day-laborers in the morning, promises to pay them at 6:00 p.m., and then cheats them out of their wages by abandoning them in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at 5:45 p.m. under the pretext that they are in Canada.  Moreover, Dwight apparently uses the day-laborers for work at the Scranton branch. What Dwight revealed in this two-minute segue should send chills down any employer’s back.

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Belles, Bourbon, Bullets & Bankruptcy

November 13, 2009 - by: Jody Ward-Rannow 6 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0. Shockingly no one did anything illegal in this episode. Dunder Mifflin suffered a full day’s lost productivity due to Corporate’s poor handling of the bankruptcy situation.

In this week’s episode, the recession finally hit Dunder Mifflin. Faced with such stress, I would have expected the Scranton branch to become a plaintiff’s lawyer’s dream, but shockingly, no one did anything that really violated any employment laws. Jim tricked Dwight into beating himself up instead of injuring Kevin, avoiding a potential battery and workers’ compensation claim. Although, I suppose Dwight could have made a workers’ comp claim based on his injuries since Dunder Mifflin sanctioned his Karate Seminar. Angela was uncomfortable with her game character and could have tried to make a religious discrimination claim because she did not want to be a voodoo witch doctor, but that’s a pretty weak claim. Dwight also should not have told the staff that they cannot unionize if they come work for him. It is illegal for an employer to prohibit unionization under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

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Belles, Bourbon, Bullets & Bankruptcy

November 13, 2009 - by: Jody Ward-Rannow 6 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0. Shockingly no one did anything illegal in this episode. Dunder Mifflin suffered a full day’s lost productivity due to Corporate’s poor handling of the bankruptcy situation.

In this week’s episode, the recession finally hit Dunder Mifflin. Faced with such stress, I would have expected the Scranton branch to become a plaintiff’s lawyer’s dream, but shockingly, no one did anything that really violated any employment laws. Jim tricked Dwight into beating himself up instead of injuring Kevin, avoiding a potential battery and workers’ compensation claim. Although, I suppose Dwight could have made a workers’ comp claim based on his injuries since Dunder Mifflin sanctioned his Karate Seminar. Angela was uncomfortable with her game character and could have tried to make a religious discrimination claim because she did not want to be a voodoo witch doctor, but that’s a pretty weak claim. Dwight also should not have told the staff that they cannot unionize if they come work for him. It is illegal for an employer to prohibit unionization under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

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The Strike Drags On

January 04, 2008 - by: Julie Elgar 4 COMMENTS

Well, David Letterman reached an agreement with the writers, and they are coming back to work. For him. No such luck for those of us who are anxiously awaiting the return of our favorite show. Nevertheless, the labor dispute is continuing to teach us valuable lessons. Like why companies should avoid this mess in the first place.

Here is a newsflash for you: Happy employees don’t unionize. Employees unionize because they perceive that their employers are not treating them fairly. While “fair” doesn’t mean that an employer has to roll over to all employee demands, it does mean that they should listen to them. Open communication between management and employees is vital not only to the company’s bottom line but also to remaining union-free.

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Categories: Unions

Merry Christmas

December 21, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 1 COMMENTS

No post today. Call it a sympathy strike (yes, I know that sympathy strikes are illegal – take it up with the NLRB). Well, better yet, call it a holiday hiatus as the truth is that I’m blowing off my responsibilities this morning and heading for the mall to finish up my Christmas shopping. In the meantime, check out my friend John Phillips’ blog entry about a sexually harassed mall Santa.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a safe new year.

Categories: Unions

Follow Up On The Picket Line

December 14, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 12 COMMENTS

It is not that I don’t support the writers of The Office.  I do.  But I also think their situation is different than most other industries in the private sector.  When I look at the issue of unionization from a more global perspective, I firmly believe that most employees and companies are better off without a union.  Not to say that there aren’t some workplaces out there were a union isn’t the right choice.  It is just that those instances are few and far between.

Some have commented that employees need unions to obtain better pay.  This is a fallacy which is easily dispelled.  A union cannot guarantee better pay: it can simply try to negotiate for it  (much like employees can do without a union – and without paying union dues).  And when the union and the company do negotiate there are three possibilities:  (1) wages and benefits go up; (2) wages and benefits go down; and (3) wages and benefits could stay the same.

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Categories: Unions

The Picket Line

December 07, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 8 COMMENTS

The strike continues and it doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon. Indeed, one blog reported yesterday that negotiations are actually going backwards! To make matters worse, it looks like several actors are honoring the picket line. I think we might be going without our beloved “Office” for several more weeks. I’m not sure that I can take it.

Some big names, such as Carson Daly, crossed the picket line and went back to work this week. Other big names have begun personally paying their staff’s salaries during the strike. But the reality is that many staffers have lost – and will continue to lose – their paychecks. I’m not talking about the fat cats who can afford to do so. I’m talking about those folks who work for them. At Christmas time. I can’t think of a better lesson for why companies should work hard to remain union-free. And I think its time that we started giving some tips on how they can do so. I’ve asked some experts in the area to chime in and give us some real-life guidance. So stay tuned.

Categories: Unions

The Strike Continues

November 30, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 1 COMMENTS

Well, the strike of the writers’ union continues.  I don’t do that much traditional labor work so I’ve asked my colleague, Jerry Coker, to help me out as he is the firm guru on all things traditional labor.  He is also a huge fan of the show.  Here is what Jerry had to say:

Nothing too funny about a strike.  Not to the writers, their families (strikers don’t get paychecks), and not for the fans of Dundler Mifflin, a fictional paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania.   And certainly not to those employers who are trying to cope with one.  Federal law – the National Labor Relations Act – gives employees the right to strike in order to try and pressure their employer into agreeing with their union’s demands.  But what a lot of people don’t know is that companies have legal rights too (perish the thought!).  Seriously, an employer can hire replacement workers and – get this – can hire permanent replacements for economic strikers.  Sometimes the difference between a successful strike and one that’s a bust is whether the employer is in a position to actually hire replacements.  And – no surprise here – the more skilled the workers, the harder they can be to replace.  Like, for instance, talented Hollywood screenwriters……

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Categories: Unions

The Strike

November 28, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Looks like the folks at Dunder Mifflin will still be teaching us valuable lessons — even when they don’t know it.  Check back on Friday morning for some valuable tips on labor relations brought to us courtesy of the screen writers guild!

Categories: Unions