That's What She Said

The Merger

LITIGATION VALUE: Two weeks pay.

Michael’s theory that a merger is like a marriage is an interesting one. He just seems to have forgotten that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. This week’s “divorce” was with Anthony Gardner, the employee Michael drove away with his crazy antics. Indeed, if it wasn’t bad enough that Michael humiliated Anthony by trying to lift him onto the conference room table, he fired Anthony when he objected to his unconventional management style. And as so often is the case when Michael is involved, Dunder Mifflin had to step in and write a check.

Barring some sort of contractual arrangement, the company was under no legal obligation to pay Anthony any severance. They could have just sent him packing. But if your regional manager is going to show the new black employee where “the slaves” sit; tell a female employee that she looks “exotic” and then ask her if her father was a GI; or turn the company’s orientation into a rap video, then it may not be such a bad idea to pay a little bit of severance in exchange for the employee’s agreement to sign a full release promising not to sue the company. Let’s see, a Company gives someone a sum of money so that they will never have to see or hear from them again — well, maybe a merger is a little like a marriage after all . . . .

3 thoughts on “The Merger”

  1. Well, there was no indication that he was given a severance check – or that he signed a general release. So wouldn’t the true cost of the episode be the cost of settling a hostile work environment suit based upon Gardner’s personal appearance? He would have to argue that it was a constructive termination, but that wouldn’t be that hard, given the facts of the episode… And what would the OSHA fine have been if he had actually made it up onto the table?

    Great idea for a blog, btw.

  2. Hi Julie. I’ve been enjoying the blog, and knew you’ld want to hear about NBC showing an “HR Nightmare” marathon of The Office hosted by our HR Hero Toby! It’s like NBC put this together with you in mind!

    “On Thursday, March 29 (8 9:30 & 10-11 p.m. ET), “Toby Flenderson” (co-executive producer/writer/ actor Paul Lieberstein) who plays the Director of Human Resources, will host “A Night at the Office” marathon. Five “human resource nightmare” episodes will air surrounding an all-new episode of “Andy Barker P.I.” at 9:30 p.m. ET. The encore episodes include “Diversity Day” (8 8:30 p.m. ET), “Healthcare” (8:30-9:00pm), “Sexual Harassment” (9 9:30 p.m. ET), “The Injury” (10 10:30 p.m. ET) and “Gay Witch Hunt” (10:30-11 p.m. ET). “

  3. Not sure what the unemployment insurance law is in PA, but in New York, the company would definitely be on the hook for the employee’s unemployment if they fired him for not standing for a manager’s humiliation (or if he quit because of it, since that kind of hostility from a manager toward him for being fat would be a good faith quit).

    Unemployment might be outside the scope of the field of “employment law” (I primarily work in immigration so I’m not positive exactly where the field’s conventional boundaries lie) but, you know. Food for thought.

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