Litigation Value: $0
With “The Office” on hiatus for a few weeks, we thought we’d take a look at the webisodes to get our fix. In the most recent webisode, “The Outburst,” Oscar flips out on an unknown victim on his cell phone while sitting at his desk. Naturally, everyone within earshot becomes quite curious about the situation. They ask Oscar, but he’s not telling. He claims it’s a private matter. Unfortunately, the others in the office don’t agree, and they do everything they can to pry into Oscar’s life and figure out who he was yelling at.
I won’t spoil the big finish –- that’s what she said –- but I will tell you that Oscar may or may not have a claim for invasion of privacy. If your company has a well written policy, they can peak around employees’ desks without much of a problem. Still, employees do have a right to be free from highly offensive invasions into private matters.
So, in Oscar’s case, were any of the various invasions highly offensive to a reasonable person, enough to make a claim for invasion of privacy? Probably not. I’m not saying it was cool for Kevin to follow him into the bathroom to question him. (Frankly, bathroom talkers creep me out. When did this become acceptable?) Still, Kevin doing that, or Creed groping Oscar in a misguided attempt to reach out to him probably doesn’t rise to the level the law contemplates for this kind of claim.
To get there, something like Dwight staking out your house waiting to bust you needs to happen. Or Michael discussing your being gay to the whole office. Or . . . well, you get the idea. And if you don’t, just keep watching. Because I’m sure we’ll have another great example right around the corner.