Dunder Mifflin, We Hardly Knew Ye

August 30, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

It is August 30, 2012, the night of a blue moon, and I’m a bit blue with the news earlier in the week that this will be the last season for The Office. So I thought I’d crack open a Blue Moon (OK, not literally — taking some literary license here) and share some thoughts about what made the show — and writing this blog — so enjoyable.

The heart and the soul of The Office, what made it work so well (while also giving us ample material for the blog), was the Michael Scott character. Although he was the Regional Manager, and thus “the boss,” Michael was an underdog, and everyone likes an underdog (except President Snow from The Hunger Games — but I digress). Lonely as a child, unlucky in love, clueless in the extreme about the political sensitivities his comments offended, we rooted for him to succeed — in large part, I think, because we knew that he had the best of intentions and cared deeply for his “family” at work. If his character had not been so sympathetic (as was sometimes the case in the first season), the show would not have enjoyed its success or longevity. Plus, virtually every employee in the office would have sued the company for some sort of harassment or emotional distress if they hadn’t felt the same way.

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Going for Gold

August 10, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

In honor of the Olympics, I have decided to hand out some well deserved medals to our Dunder Mifflin friends for keeping us laughing all these seasons.  I’ll only be handing out gold medals, because that’s the only color on my yogurt lids and I have run out of paperclips for the chains.  Without further ado . . .

Jim Halpert:  Gold medal for most creative office pranks.  My favorite would have to be putting all of Dwight’s belongings in the vending machine and handing him a sack of change.  Of course, the vampire gag was pretty great, too (see below). 

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Categories: Michael Scott

Office Olympics

August 02, 2012 - by: Adam Klarfeld 0 COMMENTS
Adam Klarfeld

With the Olympics in full swing this summer, reruns of The Office have been replaced with reruns of the Olympics (OK, tape-delayed events, but you get the idea). I can only assume this means that every workplace in the entire world is now hosting its very own office-themed Olympics with events ranging from office-chair races to Flonkerton. (In Season 2, Episode 3, we learned that Flonkerton is (obviously) the Icelandic term for “Box of Paper Snowshoe Racing,” the national sport of “Icelandic paper companies.” The Scranton branch competed in Flonkerton as part of the first Dundler Mifflin Olympiad.)   

Naturally, and like most fun things at work, workplace-sponsored Olympics (and all extracurricular activities for that matter -– both on and off the premises) have associated legal risks. (Surprisingly, nobody from Dunder Mifflin seems to actually have been hurt in that episode.) If an employee is injured at your office’s Olympics, here are the general legal topics implicated:

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Angry Andy Revisited

July 27, 2012 - by: Adam Keating 0 COMMENTS
Adam Keating

Potential Litigation Value:  “Priceless”

We are well into the summer re-run season and this week’s episode was no exception.  The gently viewed episode of “Angry Andy” allows us to revisit the importance of having a strong and dependable HR department.  The following quote encapsulates Dunder Mifflin’s HR department and also may explain why there are so many shenanigans at this workplace: 

Categories: Michael Scott

Don’t be tardy to Nellie’s party!

July 19, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

Litigation Value: Nothing this week — unless the magician sues for emotional distress.

Tonight’s “gently viewed” episode, “Welcome Party,” finds the gang dragooned by Robert California into performing favors for Robert’s newest crush, Nellie. Jim and Dwight are sent to help Nellie unpack her 30 boxes from London (and two trunks from Florida) into her new apartment, while the rest of the office is tasked with organizing a party to welcome Nellie into their community. Because Nellie is universally disliked, however, the party planners decide to throw her an intentionally bad party (as opposed to all the unintentionally bad parties in this history of the office). But when Jim and Dwight stumble across some personal history about Nellie (involving a stage magician) that shows her more vulnerable side, Jim calls Pam to tell her to put the kibosh on the plans. Alas, plans are too far along for Pam to do so. At least the office mates agree to use a code word (“Pam”) when referring to Nellie, so Nellie never realizes that the mean comments are directed at her. And Jim and Dwight gallantly come to Nellie’s side by ruining the magic act brought in for Nellie’s party (it makes sense if you see the episode).

Group bullying of this sort is, of course, not very nice, even if its target is herself rude and thoughtless at times. But would the actions of her co-workers give a claim against Dunder-Mifflin, assuming Nellie learned that they were directed at her?  Not likely. The statements were not because of, or based on, any protected characteristic, such as race, gender or age. Certainly they could be perceived as “hostile” but, contrary to popular opinion, courts generally do not recognize claims based simply on hostility in the workplace — the workplace has to be hostile based on a protected category. Indeed, courts have held that the anti-discrimination laws are not a general “civility code.” So, although this conduct could lead to problems down the road (and should be nipped in the bud), it should not provide a basis for liabiity. Moreover, Nellie’s own inappropriate statements about members of ethnic groups, seen earlier in the episode, would make it more difficult for her to claim that she was harmed by the conduct.

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5 Things I Miss About You

Kristin Starnes Gray

With summer and the season of reruns upon us, I thought it was time to look back and reflect upon all the things I miss about Michael Scott. It’s hard to believe he has been off the show for so long. Here are the top 5 things I miss about Michael.

1. The fact he will go to any length to have some social/bonding time with his office family. Remember when he opened Cafe Disco after his co-workers refused his lunch invitation? Without Michael, Jim and Pam would have simply tied the knot at the courthouse without realizing the delight of watching their co-workers dance (badly) to “YMCA” in the middle of the workday.

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Categories: Michael Scott

If David Wallace is Back, Can Michael Scott Be Far Behind?

June 07, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS
Doug Hall

Well, of course not. Steve Carell is much too much of a star now to make the move back to TV. (Quick: Can you name the actor who portrays David Wallace? Neither could I. His name is Andy Buckley.) Nevertheless, and as much as I love Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, it’s fun to think about what The Office might be like if Michael came back. Plus, with Robert California and, presumably, Nellie gone, and with Andy and Erin happily canoodling, there is a risk of fewer employment law-related shenanigans at The Office — and Michael would certainly ensure that wouldn’t happen. So I thought I’d spin out the top 5, purely hypothetical scenarios that might tempt Michael to return to the garden spot of northeast Pennsylvania.

5. David Wallace offers him the position of the company’s Ambassador to Canada.

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Categories: Michael Scott

Moments Like This

June 01, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 1 COMMENTS
Jaclyn West

Litigation Value: It’s been quite a season. ‘Nuff said.

We’re into the summer re-run season, and I’m still rolling with my love of the top-10 list. And even though we missed Michael Scott this season — oh, how we missed him — our favorite crew of paper salesmen and women definitely delivered their share of laughs and cringeworthy episodes. So here are 10 of my favorite moments, organized (roughly) in order, from Season 8 of The Office.

10. Angela calling Child Protective Services on Pam because Pam drank herbal tea out of a cup that once held coffee and might have trace amounts of caffeine in it — and then telling Pam about the call during their pregnant ladies’ walking club. I’m guessing CPS didn’t consider that tip a high priority.

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iPlaintiff

May 24, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Litigation value: Ryan gets nothing today, but in a few years ….. who knows?

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) significantly broadened the ADA’s definition of disability. Ryan had me asking myself how much during last night’s rerun episode, Trivia. During the trivia contest, the organizers confiscated Ryan’s smartphone. Ryan held out for all of eight seconds before deciding that he would rather be ejected from the bar with his smartphone than remain there and compete for $1,000 without it.

Does Ryan have a disability under the ADAAA? Might Dunder Mifflin have to seek a reasonable accommodation for Ryan if he requests one? The answer today is likely “no,” but that could change in the not-too-distant future.

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Welcome Back, Wallace

Kristin Starnes Gray

While this blogger is sad to bid farewell to Robert California, the news of David Wallace’s return to the company is certainly exciting. In honor of his triumphant return as CEO of Dunder Mifflin, below is a list of my favorite Wallace moments.

1. The basketball game at Wallace’s house. After Wallace and Jim sneak out of the cocktail party to play basketball, Wallace sees Dwight standing on his roof and kicking his fireplace as part of Dwight’s unsolicited house inspection. Wallace and Jim’s reaction? Continue playing basketball.

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Categories: Michael Scott

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