That's What She Said

The Scranton Vampire Chronicles

Litigation Value: Settling various claims related to Dwight’s bat hunting = $30,000; replacing shredded textbook = $100; convincing your coworker you’re a vampire = priceless.

Given that a colleague of mine has already thoroughly covered the employment law issues in last night’s repeat, let’s rewind to one of my favorite episodes from Season 3 — Business School. This episode takes us back to the Dunder Mifflin days before Ryan Howard went corporate (and then back to temp), before the entire gang danced down the aisle, and obviously before Pam nursed someone else’s baby. In this “oldie but a goody,” Michael Scott (armed only with candy bars and a boom box) faces a room full of hostile college students while the rest of the gang battles one pint-sized vampire bat. Is it any surprise that the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” directed this episode?

The episode begins with Michael’s delight at being invited to be a “visiting professor” during one of Ryan’s business school classes. What Michael doesn’t know is that Ryan’s sole motivation for the invitation is extra credit. Things quickly deteriorate as Michael pelts students with candy, shreds a student’s textbook, discovers Ryan’s grim prediction for Dunder Mifflin’s future, and ends his speech with a dramatic “SUCK ON THAT!” Something tells me the student in question won’t be content with simply replacing his missing textbook pages with life lessons. Instead of extra credit, Ryan ends up with a new seat in the annex with celebrity-crazed Kelly Kapoor as punishment for declaring that the company will be obsolete in 5-10 years. As Julie discussed in her original analysis of this episode, Dunder Mifflin probably won’t face any liability for Michael’s antics because Ryan did not engage in any protected activity giving rise to a retaliation claim.

Back at the office, the Dunder Mifflin gang has vampire problems and not of the Cullen or Compton variety. There’s a bat loose in the office, and only Stanley Hudson has the good sense to evacuate after seeing the flapping wings and “poop raining from the ceiling.” Instead of calling animal control, Creed Bratton and Dwight Schrute prepare for war by arming themselves with a glue-lined box and a stake fashioned from a broom. Dwight ultimately catches the bat, but only after exposing Meredith Palmer to rabies and Dunder Mifflin to a bizarre Workers’ Compensation claim. This episode and the “cheesy pita fire” illustrate the importance of having an OSHA-compliant Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee reactions during workplace emergencies, thereby preventing employee injuries and damage to the employer’s facilities. At a minimum, EAPs must include the following elements:

  • a means of reporting fires and other emergencies;
  • evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments;
  • procedures to be followed by any employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
  • procedures to account for all employees after evacuation is complete;
  • rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them; and
  • names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan.

Fires are the most common type of emergency. Designating or requiring employees to fight fires with portable fire extinguishers increases the level of complexity of the EAP and the level of training that the employer must provide to employees.

Even if Dunder Mifflin did have an EAP, I doubt the company designated Dwight as the vampire slayer or provided him with training on properly wielding a broom stake. The company would be wise to implement an OSHA-compliant EAP and properly train the gang on what to do during an emergency. Clearly Dwight has not taken Michael’s “don’t be an idiot” advice to heart.

Stanley had the right idea — duck, cover, and leave at the first sight of fangs and animal stool. Of course, if Dwight had followed the company’s EAP, the Fun Run might never have happened and science would still be searching for a cure for rabies without the aid of Michael’s giant check.

Workplace Catastrophes: An Employer’s Guide to Workplace Violence, Terrorism, and Natural Disasters