Todd Packer’s revenge

March 18, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS

In last week’s episode, this blog’s all-time favorite character returned with gifts. And when I say “gifts,” I mean gifts for the writers of this blog; not so much for the Scranton branch. That’s right, Dunder Mifflin’s all-time leader in litigation liability for the company, Todd Packer, returned to the show for (what just has to be) his final hurrah.

The disgruntled former employee returned ostensibly to apologize as part of a 12-step process. Pam quickly sees that he is just insulting his former co-workers “in the form of apologies.” Nevertheless, Packer provides cupcakes to make up for his past behavior. Although the cast members initially agreed not to, everyone except Pam ended up eating the cupcakes. Of course, the cupcakes were all laced with different drugs including laxatives and hallucinogens.

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Categories: Michael Scott

It’s, Like, Dishonest

March 07, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Dunder Mifflin faces potential FTC sanctions for Erin and Pete’s fake “like” marketing campaign on Facebook.

“Customer Loyalty” aired back in January, and I highly recommend Kristin’s post questioning the validity of Dwight’s loyalty pledge.  I might add that such a pledge is probably not necessary considering that most states recognize in some form that employees owe their employers a duty of loyalty to act in the employer’s best interest, regardless of whether the employees have executed any restrictive covenants.

I was interested in a short scene where flirty duo, Erin and Pete, rejoice over their marketing scheme to generate fake “likes” for Dunder Mifflin’s Facebook page.  Turns out, this is not only dishonest, but also may violate FTC guidelines as well as Facebook’s internal policies.  In 2009 the FTC determined that paying for positive online reviews without disclosing such constitutes deceptive advertising.  This determination could be extended to prosecuting firms that generate fake “likes” for Facebook pages.  On August 31, 2012, Facebook announced that it was ratcheting up its automated detection and removal of “likes” that may have been generated “by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk likes.”  These measures are going to be necessary.  IT research firm, Gartner, Inc., predicts that by 2014, 10 to 15 percent of online reviews will be fake or paid for.

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Blogumentary

February 22, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS

NBC just seems to know when it’s my scheduled turn to blog reactions to The Office. Rather than face my intense scrutiny and the inevitable backlash from all of my loyal followers (i.e., my mom), the network punted, airing a full hour of Parks & Recreation instead. I was a few episodes behind anyway, so at least this gave me the opportunity to catch up.

While I will never have that time back, I was excited to see the Internet pop-up advertisement for the airing of The Office, a 10-year documentary in the making. There are so many mockumentaries out there right now (e.g., Modern Family, Parks & Rec, Sportscenter commercials, etc.) but there are no documentaries shown within those mockumentaries. (What’s to stop the next mockumentary from creating a mockumentary of a mockumentary of a documentary? The thoughts I can provoke are just mind blowing, I know). Anyway, I’m thinking there are going to be at least one or two embarrassed Dunder Mifflin employees from the airing of The Office.

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Categories: Michael Scott

Breaking up is hard to do

February 18, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: David Wallace, get your metaphorical wallet out. You’ve got settlement checks to write for Erin ($2,500-$5,000 for sexual harassment and potentially a lot more for invasion of privacy), Pete ($5,000-$10,000 for sex discrimination and a touch of IIED), and Alice (the weakest claim, but still worth $1,000 or so for nuisance value).

What a night in Scranton. Dwight has roped Angela into acting as caregiver for his elderly aunt (best quote of the night: “Loose braids reflect a loose character”), and Pam is interviewing for an office manager job (which turns out to be a receptionist position in disguise) for the Michael Scott of the Philadelphia real estate industry. There’s plenty of material there, but I’ll leave that for one of my esteemed colleagues to discuss on re-runs, because I want to talk about the A plot.

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The Return of the Nard Dog

February 07, 2013 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $0. Though there is all sorts of questionable stuff going on, none of it should expose Dunder Mifflin itself to any claims or liability.

In tonight’s episode, “Couples Discount,” no one really covers themselves in glory.  You’ve got The Office denizens seeking to goof off one last time before Andy returns, and pretending about being in relationships with each other to get discounts on foot treatments. You’ve got Andy covering up with David Wallace that he’s been gone for 3 months. And as far as everyone’s favorite couple, Pam and Jim, are concerned, you’ve got Jim learning that Pam has kept a secret from him relating to her relationship with Brian the boom man — and his reaction is to run back to Philly. Layer on top of that Erin’s awkward efforts to break up with Andy, and all-in-all it was not an uplifting episode.

But hey, you’re not reading this blog to hear me kvetch, you’re here to learn about the labor and employment aspects of the episode. Well, I don’t really see anything here that would put the good folks at Dunder Mifflin on the hot seat. If anything, the company would have the ability to take action against Andy to recoup the funds that he was paid while he was out of the office without authorization. It wasn’t cool for Andy’s co-workers to lie to him about what went on during his absence in order to trip him up when he spoke to Wallace, but there isn’t much Andy could do about that.

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Draw me a butt

January 31, 2013 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Frank can collect from Pam and Dwight the cost of cleaning paint off his truck.

“Shouldn’t someone get fired for this?”

That’s the question Pam asked while confronting the large orange butts that someone (Frank) spray-painted on her warehouse mural in “Vandalism,” the second of two new episodes tonight. Of course someone should get fired, but Pam and Dwight will be joining Frank in the unemployment line after drawing revenge art on his truck. A trail of poop? Pam, you’re better than that.

Frank’s behavior during his HR interview and in the parking lot raises a more serious issue — workplace violence. The man is dangerous. A January 2011 FBI bulletin notes that in most cases workplace violent offenders do not suddenly “snap.” Instead, the study claims, they follow a path that can begin with behavior such as brooding or making odd writings and drawings. Frank seems well on his way down the path. His near physical attack on Pam was one of the show’s rare departures from any hint of comedy. In the real world, Dunder Mifflin would contact the police, terminate Frank immediately, and notify building security to watch for him on or around the property.

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Fire in the hole

January 25, 2013 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 5 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Fire in the Hole prank = potential assault and battery charges for Dwight (not to mention the dry cleaning bill); Toby’s awkwardly affectionate overtures to Nellie = fodder for a potential hostile work environment claim against the Human Resources Manager; and using the Dunder Code to hunt for the fake holy grail = priceless. 

The Scranton office is heating up as the show moves towards its inevitable conclusion. Things are getting flirtatious between Erin and Pete as well as Nellie and Toby, illustrating why we have long warned in this blog against the dangers (and potential liability) arising from office romances. Also, the writers have re-introduced tension between Jim and Pam as a plot device, only this time it’s due to Jim’s stress at his new office and their long-distance relationship. Did anyone else wonder whether the writers were hinting of a future plot line involving Pam and crew member Brian? 

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Categories: Michael Scott

Dead fish

January 18, 2013 - by: Adam Klarfeld 1 COMMENTS

Seriously, where is Andy Bernard? I’m worried about him. And his relationship with Erin. And Pete too. I’m not sure what a Pennsylvania court might say, but under Iowa law, Andy could presumably fire Pete simply because his girlfriend is attracted to him. See Nelson v. Knight (Iowa 2012) (dentist’s wife forced dentist to fire employee that dentist was attracted to).

On a slightly more substantive note, it was a little refreshing to see an interview free of any inappropriate or borderline unlawful questions involving a Dunder Mifflin employee. Of course Daryl’s interview was with another company. Still, there were no EEOC-disapproved questions — nothing that could be construed to elicit any disability questions, or age, religion, or nationality. And, it almost seemed warm and normal…right until those fish got electrocuted.

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Categories: Michael Scott

Not-so-nice lice

January 11, 2013 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nada, but a close shave; it’s lucky Dwight is clumsy and didn’t manage to insecticide-bomb his co-workers.

Whoa, Mama. It’s been a rocky start to the New Year for the staff of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office. With Jim working part-time and spending days on end in Philadelphia, Pam is struggling to cope with the kids (Cece and Phillip at home, and everyone else at work) all on her own. And things go from bad to worse when Cece comes down with a case of lice, which she spreads to Pam, who unwittingly gives the nasties to half the office.

Meredith is the first victim, and the entire office jumps to the conclusion that she’s to blame, while Pam guiltily keeps quiet about Cece’s condition. (Well — wouldn’t you assume it was Meredith?) Taking the bull by the horns, Meredith shaves her head, while Erin conducts a lice removal seminar for the rest of the victims (Angela, Oscar, Creed, Pete and Stanley) — leading to some hilarity as the infected group spends the day with mayonnaise on their heads.

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Watch your back, Oscar

January 04, 2013 - by: Doug Hall 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $250,000 in attorneys’ fees and to settle Oscar’s claims–unless his guilt and his desire not to embarrass himself or out the Senator by disclosing their affair keeps him from making a big deal out of it.

A holiday season rerun of “The Target,” first covered by my colleague Brian Kurtz a few weeks ago: The main story line, and the one with potential for labor and employment exposure, centers on Angela enlisting Dwight’s help in locating a “hit man” to kneecap Oscar in payback for his affair with Angela’s husband, the Senator. Dwight doesn’t realize that Oscar is the intended target at first, and when he learns that is the case, he ultimately is successful in helping stop the “hit” before it can occur (though he does get a kick in the shins from Angela).

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