Nervous (About) Nellie

February 16, 2012 - by: Doug Hall 2 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  $100,000 – perhaps more if Todd Packer sleeps his way to a VP position.

All sorts of sexual shenanigans occur throughout tonight’s episode, “Tallahassee.” Most of the action takes place in the aforementioned capital city of Florida, where Dwight, Jim, Stanley, Ryan, Erin, and Kathy are attending a meeting regarding Sabre’s plan to open retail stores. And who else do we find at the meeting but walking employment law disaster Todd Packer and Nellie Bertram, the slightly … quirky, shall we say, friend of Jo who memorably interviewed for the regional manager position in Scranton. Todd and Nellie engage in the most blatant inappropriate conduct of the episode — and Nellie’s wink to Todd after she says she is “waiting for someone to wow me” hints at perhaps even worse.

Before we get to the meeting itself, let’s talk about Dwight’s behavior that morning. Concerned about making it to the meeting on time, Dwight takes it upon himself to wake up the rest of the team members by using duplicate keys to enter their hotel rooms and rouse them from their sleep. He frightens Kathy, suffocates Stanley and exposes Erin to Ryan’s drowsy amorous advances (until Ryan realizes he is on camera — “not cool!”). Though Dwight gets his comeuppance via a detailed prank courtesy of Jim, that doesn’t change the fact that his co-workers might well file claims against him (and the company, as he is the head of the project) based on his invasion of their privacy, infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

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Perfectenschlag

February 10, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nothing too outrageous last night, but are we seeing the beginnings of a couple of sexual harassment claims for Jim and Val?

Another week has gone by, and our favorite paper and printer sales team has heroically managed to continue to avoid discussing the bizarre behavior of their CEO at his party a few weeks ago. (What happens at Robert California’s, stays at Robert California’s, I guess.) But we’re certain to see more R.C. shenanigans in the coming weeks, because the head office is planning to open storefronts and Andy has tasked Dwight with coming up with a crack sales team to concoct a concept and open the stores. Dwight picked a group that, arguably, contains the five most dedicated and talented workers in the office — and Andy immediately rejected Dwight’s team because he couldn’t run his operation for three weeks without those folks. Andy told Dwight he could take a group of employees he deemed “less essential” — including Kevin and Kelly.

Naturally, Dwight was upset that Andy rejected his choice team and saddled him with, in Dwight’s opinion, a group of useless people. But since Andy’s the boss, Dwight couldn’t override him. So Dwight did what he does best — undermined Andy’s authority. Dwight announced the team in a way that he knew would upset the group, then unleashed the angry employees on Andy. Andy was forced to retreat from his previously chosen team, and he and Dwight picked the group together — Stanley, Jim, Erin, Ryan and Kathy. (Andy, this isn’t legal advice, but just a tip — Dwight wants your job and he’d love to undermine you all the way out the door. If you continue putting him into positions where he can assert his “authority” over his co-workers, he’s going to capitalize on those opportunities and you’ll come off looking like you can’t control him. Dwight has always been a problem employee and probably always will be, barring some major personality change. It’s fine to try to engage an employee like that — in fact, it’s a good idea. At the end of the day, though, everyone needs to be clear about the fact that you are the boss, not Dwight.)

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Caught Red-Handed and Breastfed

February 04, 2012 - by: Joshua Drexler 2 COMMENTS

Last night’s episode, Jury Duty, involved scandalous improprieties, shrewd cover-ups, relentless investigations, and dramatic public confessions. Agatha Christie would have been proud, although Scranton’s twist on these themes might have left her a little confused.

It took Dwight only a few minutes to dismantle Jim’s lie about having been on jury duty for a full week. After uncovering the truth, Dwight celebrated the demise of his nemesis, believing that Andy had no other recourse other than to fire Jim. When Andy gave Jim a mere slap on the wrist (well, face actually), Dwight was beside himself in anger. While no liability should result from any single act from this episode, Andy’s lenient treatment of Jim definitely created a ripe environment for someone else to cry “no fair” in the future. In legal terms, they would allege “disparate treatment.” The cardinal rule for disciplining employees is to enforce your policies consistently. If Andy decides to discipline an employee for dishonesty in the future, that employee could argue that Andy only did so because of his/her race, sex, religion, etc., and point to Andy’s disparate treatment of Jim as proof. The temptation to have favorites is normal, but employers need to know that allowing favoritism to influence the enforcement of policies can be very risky.

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Categories: Michael Scott

Some Friendly Advice

January 27, 2012 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Nada, Zero, Zilch. Interview Advice: Priceless.

No “Office” last night, fellow Scrantonites! (Scrantonians?) I didn’t know what to do with myself all evening. And since we don’t have a new episode – or even a rerun – to discuss, I did what I do best and made a list.

Top 10 Things NOT To Say When Interviewing For A Job At Dunder Mifflin Paper Company:

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A “Get-Together”

January 20, 2012 - by: Matt Rita 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Call it what you will — a get-together, party, or bacchanalia. By any name, tonight’s gathering at the soon-to-be-former home of Robert California could prove costly for both Dunder Mifflin Sabre and its chief executive.

Are you ready for some meatballs?”  At night’s end, The Office‘s figurative answer to that literal question by Stanley (a/k/a Dwight’s carnivorous co-conspirator) was definitely “No” — that is, if the exodus of swimmers from the indoor pool of their au naturel boss was any indication.

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A Flush and a Fluke

January 13, 2012 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value:  Dwight manhandling Gabe = a pricey negligent retention/supervision lawsuit; Andy trying to convince Oscar to cook the sales books = $700 for an expedited severance agreement and release in full for Andy; Kevin and the Einsteins claiming all the glory at trivia = one priceless fluke.

What happens when an office is $800 short of meeting its sales goal on the very last day of the quarter? For our Scranton friends, it means a road trip to a gay bar in Philadelphia for one epic night of trivia. Anxious to impress Robert California, Andy is desperate to hit his numbers at any price, including buying a carload of paper himself and even asking Oscar to fudge the sales numbers for him.

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Sabotage!

January 05, 2012 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS

Litigation value: Nothing in this episode, but Dwight is perilously close to civil and criminal liability for his computer activities.

Jaclyn West wrote about this episode, Doomsday, two months ago when it originally aired. Her post discussed “motivation” and the inevitable sexual harassment of warehouse Val, either at the hands of Gabe or Darryl.

Dwight’s “Accountability Booster” raises a different employment law issue. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 prohibits, among other things, intentionally transmitting a code or program and causing damage to a computer system. Dwight’s doomsday program would have sent information to Robert California that was harmful to the Scranton employees. This likely does not violate the CFAA, but it reminds us that Dunder Mifflin needs an acceptable use policy to govern computer use by its employees.

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Can’t Beet a Garden Party

December 29, 2011 - by: Doug Hall 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: Zilch. An episode blissfully free of employment law problems!

Tonight’s episode — the last of 2011 — brings up a reprise of “The Garden Party,” previously blogged by my colleague Brian Kurtz.

Most of the action takes place outside of the usual office setting, at Dwight’s bucolic beet farm/budding party venue. In an effort to impress both Robert California and his parents, Andy decides to throw a garden party — with “Connecticut casual” as the dress code. My favorite running joke in the episode involves Dwight’s slavish devotion to a book on how to throw a garden party, not knowing that it was penned by Jim (under the nom de plume “James Trickington”). I know there will be a “tableau vivant” at my New Year’s Eve party!

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Stapler-Markers And Other Unusual Gift Ideas

December 23, 2011 - by: Joshua Drexler 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: potentially millions when Dunder Mifflin/Saber tries to assert ownership rights over the Stapler-Marker or scented pink paper.

In an unusual deviation from its comic roots, last night’s episode of The Office, “Gettysburg,” tackled a difficult societal issue: the isolation and depression resulting from corporate America treating business like war….. Ok, that’s not true – just making sure you are paying attention. In reality “Gettysburg” was a re-run and typically hilarious. Jaclyn West initially provided great commentary.

One of my favorite moments from the episode involved the “Stapler-Marker.” The idea for this ingenious device bubbled up from the depths of Kevin’s unusual mind. Imagine it: no longer will you have to set down your marker before stapling the document that you are working on to another document. Instead, in one seamless movement, you will mark and then staple. Or you will staple then mark. As Kevin demonstrated, you might even be able to do both tasks at the same time, cutting out endless hours of wasted moments during the day.

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Merry Mifflin

December 16, 2011 - by: Jaclyn West 0 COMMENTS

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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