Litigation Value: $0. Though there is all sorts of questionable stuff going on, none of it should expose Dunder Mifflin itself to any claims or liability.
In tonight’s episode, “Couples Discount,” no one really covers themselves in glory. You’ve got The Office denizens seeking to goof off one last time before Andy returns, and pretending about being in relationships with each other to get discounts on foot treatments. You’ve got Andy covering up with David Wallace that he’s been gone for 3 months. And as far as everyone’s favorite couple, Pam and Jim, are concerned, you’ve got Jim learning that Pam has kept a secret from him relating to her relationship with Brian the boom man — and his reaction is to run back to Philly. Layer on top of that Erin’s awkward efforts to break up with Andy, and all-in-all it was not an uplifting episode.
But hey, you’re not reading this blog to hear me kvetch, you’re here to learn about the labor and employment aspects of the episode. Well, I don’t really see anything here that would put the good folks at Dunder Mifflin on the hot seat. If anything, the company would have the ability to take action against Andy to recoup the funds that he was paid while he was out of the office without authorization. It wasn’t cool for Andy’s co-workers to lie to him about what went on during his absence in order to trip him up when he spoke to Wallace, but there isn’t much Andy could do about that.
One interesting thing is that Wallace says he showed up at the branch to talk with Val about Frank, the warehouse guy fired as a result of the events in last week’s episode. It is very unusual, and dangerous, for someone in his position to investigate an HR matter like that, if that in fact is what he is doing. It’s best to leave those sorts of things to the professionals, whether in-house or from the outside, because you never know when something could end up in litigation and you will need a contemporaneous report of the events in question.
It will be interesting to see what surprises the writers might have for us in the last few episodes. They seem to be wrapping up some story lines, but with Wallace finding out at the end of the episode that Andy had been gone for the past quarter, we likely haven’t heard the last of that.