Employment Law Claims and The Office

Submitted by pjw on Thu, 04/15/2021 - 13:12

A show that comes to mind when I think about employment law is The Office. The Office aired for the first time on NBC in March of 2005. The show lasted a total of nine seasons and the final episode aired in May of 2013. I think it would be fair to say that if The Office came out at this point in time, as opposed to back in 2005, it would be extremely problematic and networks, especially NBC, would most likely not feel comfortable putting the show on air. There are few episodes of The Office in particular that would lead to an employee filing an employment law claim because of blatant harassment or discrimination. While these episodes are cringe-worthy, they also make the show stand out in a unique and hilarious way.

When it comes to employment law and The Office there are tons of potential employment law claims that could be made by the employees at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell, often crosses the boundaries for racism and sexual harassment while trying to land a joke. A few episodes where this is blatantly obvious are “Diversity Day”, “Gay Witch Hunt”, “Sexual Harassment” and “Women’s Appreciation”.

Sexual Harassment in The Office

In the episode, “Women’s Appreciation”, Phyllis gets flashed in the parking lot. his leads Michael to trying to be funny, but instead creates even more examples of sexual harassment by pretending to flash his coworkers. He then tries to take the women in the office to Victoria’s Secret to make things better. Both of these have potential for a sexual harassment claim.

As for the episode “Sexual Harassment” the title pretty much tells it all. This is one of the first times Packer makes an appearance on the show as he was the former CFO of Dunder Mifflin and Michael is very excited to see Packer and mentions the former CFO’s sexual misconduct allegations. Toby, who is head of Human Resources, confronts Michael about the company’s sexual harassment policies. This leads to Michael being concerned about not being able to make a dirty joke again because he things it will hinder his relationship with his employees. Later in the episode Michael continues to make inappropriate jokes about his female coworkers.

Racial Discrimination in The Office

In the episode “Diversity Day” we find out that corporate has sent over a speaker to hold a meeting regarding diversity after a very negative response over Michaels’s imitation of Chris Rock’s routine. Instead of following the instructions from corporate, Michael decides to hold his own diversity training session. In his meeting, Michael continues to perpetuate racism rather than actually providing his staff with a proper training.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in The Office

Finally, the episode “Gay Witch Hunt” is the episode where Michael accidentally outs Oscar’s sexual orientation in front of the entire company. Even then Michael attempts to show his support for Oscar and his sexuality by kissing Oscar against his will. This is clearly an instance where Oscar would be able to make a number of employment law claim for being harassed by Michael verbally, discriminately, sexually, physically and personally.

Getting More Employment Law Cases

Most employment law claims, or cases do not have the sort of overt behavior we see on The Office. Discrimination in the workplace is generally more subtle, and perhaps more insidious. While we can’t promise to provide claims exactly like the ones you might see from the employees at Dunder Mifflin, we would be happy to help you expand your current caseload. If you are ever in need of employees to represent, then please feel free to reach out to eGen at 617.800.0089.

Sources:

https://decider.com/2018/02/17/the-office-is-problematic/

https://www.markowitzherbold.com/press-room/Articles/It-Happens-at-The-Office