The TV show “The Office” depicts the wacky interworkings of a Pennsylvania paper company and its completely inept boss. Sure, the show is a laugh-out-loud comedy, but is it also an instructional tool?
Julie Elgar, labor and employment partner at Ford & Harrison, thinks so. That’s precisely why she decided to launch “That’s What She Said,” a blog that uses episodes of “The Office” to educate others on labor and employment issues. “The setting of the show and the politically incorrect behavior of its characters made it perfect fodder for the issues and advice we wanted to communicate to our clients and prospects,” Elgar says.
A recent post dissects an episode in which the fictional boss learns one of his employees is gay. In response, he launches what amounts to a witch hunt, covertly determining if other employees are gay and asking others if they ever “experimented” in college.
“All these actions could lead to liability,” Elgar muses. “And while federal law does not prohibit private employers from discriminating against their employees on the basis of sexual orientation, the laws of at least 17 states do.”
Elgar tries to publish a new post every Friday morning, after the show airs on Thursday. As for the summer off-season, Elgar’s unfazed.
“When there is a rerun, I’ll either blog about the episode from a new perspective, or I will post an entry referring to my previous one,” she says. “As long as the show keeps presenting examples of what not to do, I’ll keep blogging about it.”