Category: That’s What She Said

A blog by the attorneys at the law firm of Ford & Harrison about the popular television series “The Office.” Each article takes a look at a different episode, and summarizes the employment law lessons for the week.

The Return

LITIGATION VALUE: $300,000+ Thank god for damage caps. No matter how well intentioned, throwing a “welcome back” party for your Mexican-American employee by decorating the break room with piñatas, paper sombreros and streamers in the colors of the Mexican flag is not a good idea. Ever. Under no set of circumstances. Sure, Michael (and the […]

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Sexual Harassment

LITIGATION VALUE: Over $700,000 It would be pretty safe to say that any time a company’s regional manager asks a female employee to act out a lesbian love scene during its anti-harassment training you have problems. Expensive problems. Not only does the company face liability for Michael’s actions in contributing to the hostile working environment […]

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Back From Vacation

LITIGATION VALUE: $150,000 I empathize with Michael. There is nothing worse than the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you just accidentally forwarded that witty e-mail (which you worked on all morning) mocking your boss’s bad suits and strange habits to your boss, herself, rather than to your clever […]

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The Convict

LITIGATION VALUE: $500,000 I’d say that Martin (“the Convict”) Nash has a damn good race discrimination case. First his boss publicly humiliates him by announcing that he is a convict, and then, during the same speech, asks his co-workers to name trustworthy people so he can identify an African-American whom he trusts more. Who does […]

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Branch Closing

LITIGATION VALUE: $150,000 in defense costs — unless (and that is a big unless) the WARN Act applies. Call me crazy, but announcing “we’re screwed” is not the best way to tell employees that the company is closing down its branch. Not only does it create turmoil among the employees, but it comes nowhere close […]

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Diwali

LITIGATION VALUE: $350,000 My grandmother always said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I never knew exactly what she meant. Until now. Michael’s diversity training, well intentioned as it may have been, provides ample evidence of discriminatory bias against employees of Indian descent in general and of Kelly in particular. Indeed, […]

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Grief Counseling

LITIGATION VALUE: Nominal An employer can do many things to assist employees in coping with grief, but requiring them to attend a bird funeral in the parking lot is not one of them. Also, as a general rule, regional managers shouldn’t be soft shoulders for their subordinates. Certainly, they shouldn’t have a meeting asking employees […]

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The Coup

LITIGATION VALUE: $65,000 Somehow I don’t think that having Dwight stand on his desk with the word “liar” hanging from his neck is exactly what Jan meant when she told Michael to get control of his branch. Nevertheless, while Michael’s reaction was extreme, it will probably not expose the company to significant legal liability. Being […]

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The Convention

LITIGATION VALUE: Nominal (but only because Michael’s party was a flop) Unfortunately for employers, what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas. As a result, employers are increasingly faced with liability for their employees’ “booze-fueled sex romps,” as Michael so elegantly put it. Maybe it’s the exotic locale, or maybe it’s the free […]

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Gay Witch Hunt

LITIGATION VALUE: $0.00 to $450,000+ (depending on which state you are in) Overall, I’d say that Oscar has a good (read “expensive”) claim for sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation. Not only does Michael admittedly refer to employees as “faggy” when he means “lame,” but he specifically refers to Oscar, a gay employee, as “faggy.” Then, […]

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