Andy and Nellie's feud continued in last night's episode
("Andy's Ancestry") and Nellie's revenge strategy
was actually kind of funny. In response to Andy's directive to
research his (and eventually everyone else's) ancestry, Nellie
made up various historical figures that were supposedly related to
the staff members. Andy was initially excited to learn about his
shared ancestors with Michelle Obama; but after Oscar pointed out
that Andy's ancestors therefore likely owned slaves, Andy
became a little conscious of his "bossiness" for the rest
of the episode.
While Andy's continued harassment of Nellie may or may not
be actionable (after all, it does not seem to be based on any
protected class; he just doesn't like her), the biggest
threat to the company in this episode seems to be Nellie's
texting and driving. When she starts to read a text from Andy while
driving Pam's car, Mrs. Halpert wisely grabs the phone.
Nevertheless, texting and driving is a major problem for all of us.
In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that 28% of all
traffic accidents were because of talking or texting on cell phones
Although not every accident will lead to employer liability,
employers should still be concerned when employees text and drive.
Under the general elements of respondeat superior theory of
liability, employers are responsible for injuries to third parties
when its employee commits negligence while acting within the scope
of his or her employment. Accordingly, a strong policy prohibiting
cell phone use while driving for any purpose can show a fact finder
that the employee wasn't acting within the scope of his or
her employment. To be effective, the policy needs to be
communicated to the employer's employees and then subsequently
enforced with serious consequences for any violations of the
policy. Although we're only starting to see these cases
litigated in bulk, the litigation value of these cases can be
extremely high. See, e.g., Ford v. Int'l Paper Co.
(Ga.) (company paid $5.2 million to settle personal injury claim
after employee rear-ended plaintiff while using company-provided
cell phone); Bustos v. Dyke Indus. Lumber Wholesalers
(2001 jury verdict for $21 million; company later settled for $16.1
million); Ragsdale v. Cable One Inc. (Tx.) (confidential
settlement arising out of the deaths of two victims); and Yoon
v. Cooley Godward (Va.) (lawyer struck pedestrian while
talking on phone with clients led to undisclosed settlement because
phone call was work-related).
Crisis averted in this episode, but Andy's open contempt for
Toby over the last few episodes can only mean less enforcement of
company policies (if they even exist). Thankfully, that should give
us enough material to finish out this series!
Previously published by Hero - Your Employment
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A female employee traveling for her employer met a "friend" and at her motel room with him became "injured whilst engaging in sexual intercourse when a glass light fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount and fell on her."