Employment law attorney Troy Foster examines “The Baby Shower” episode of The Office and determines that while Dunder Mifflin might not be liable for sex discrimination, it probably needs to take a look at the Scranton crew’s work habits.
Litigation Value: Still currently $0.
When we wrote about The Baby Shower episode of The Office last time, we talked about how pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and how Dunder Mifflin was at risk of creating liability for such a claim if it didn’t address Michael’s and Stanley’s inappropriate comments and conduct. Since I can’t add to my colleague’s excellent analysis of that, I’m going to focus on this: How on Earth can Michael and company be screwing around so much in a time of widespread layoffs and corporate failures?
The unemployment rate is 7.6% right now, and predicted to go as high as 10% by year’s end. We’re losing jobs at an unprecedented rate. Yet, Michael is shooting watermelons out of his …, well, I’m not sure what, and Phyllis and Angela are fighting over control of the party planning committee! What everyone should be doing is acting on their best behavior and being as productive as possible.
When companies decide who to lay off, they absolutely can look at performance. Although a “last-in, first out” policy is less risky from a litigation perspective, companies use reductions in force to thin the herd and get rid of employees who aren’t performing up to expectations.
If I’m on the team deciding whom to lay off (according to the clearly defined criteria, of course), I’m thinking about the two people staging a mock buttered melon birth ahead of those who were on the phone making legitimate sales calls. Even if that means keeping the tool who sings harmony all the time and talks about Cornell. At least he’s not delivering seedless children on company time.