Question About Jan on 'The Office' [Open Spoilers]

I work in civil service where, as Hannibal Lecter might say, “we don’t reckon firings the same way” as in a private firm like Dunder Mifflin.

But I thought it was odd that they fired Jan so abruptly. Her reaction when Michael spilled the beans indicated she had no idea what was up, and I would think she would have at least taken some notice of any warnings or bad performance appraisals. Although David Wallace did say her firing was long overdue when she confronted him, he didn’t cite any such prior notices.

I could see if she had a slimy, scheming boss with a grudge against her, but David Wallace seems like a conscientous, ethical guy.

Was it a realistic depiction of a corporate firing? Or an accomodation to move a work of fiction along? (The actor who plays Wallace, Andy Buckley, actually works in the finance industry, so I’d think the writers would make use of a on-board technical advisor).

I realize this is as much a question about private-sector corporate culture as a question about a sitcom, so mods, move it to GQ or IMHO as you see fit.

From the limited bit of the situation that we saw, it worked for me. Wallace mentioned repeated performance and behavior issues, and her shock at actually getting fired doesn’t eliminate the possibility that she had received warnings in the past. Few people really expect their behavior will actually catch up with them and get them fired, so it’s usually a surprise no matter what.

And of course, now that we know her better we certainly know Jan is prone to erratic behavior.

I’ve known more than a couple of completely oblivious co-workers when I was private-sector* who, despite repeated warnings, were absolutely certain that they were simply too essential and irreplaceable to fire. Usually they learned better.

*Not that civil service has any fewer of these kind of employees…it’s just a little harder to fire them. Not TOO much harder, though…the days when a civil service job was a license to goldbrick are pretty much over.

Jan was completely self obsessed. Jan’s only only concern was Jan. She didn’t date Michael because she liked him but “to get something out my system” (I think those were her words), so it’s entirely possible that she had received several warnings but was unable to connect them to herself.

If it’s an “at-will” state, it’s most definitely realistic. I’ve been let go from two jobs in the past ten years for no stated reason and with no notice. In both cases, I had rave reviews. It was just bottom-line downsizing.

Right, but that’s getting “laid off”, which is different. I don’t watch the show, but this sounds like a performance-related firing.

I’ve seen people fired suddenly for ethics-related reasons (stealing from the company, sexual harassment, etc.) I’ve never seen anyone fired for performance without prior discussion and warning, but as others have said, I have seen people be oblivious to warnings and be surprised anyway.

You only have my word for this but hand on heart it’s true. A good friend was fired without notice or warning after 20 years with the company. She’d been consistently promoted – went from temporary file clerk to labor relations manager (she hired and fired and negotiated contracts) and never had a negative review. Excellent employee – never missed work, didn’t do personal stuff on company time, worked unpaid overtime – rarely even went to lunch.

What she did do was respond to corporate when they asked for input on illegal behavior, and she reported a higher-up for bullying and harassment. Corporate told the guy what she said. He waited about a year and then had her fired. No reason given, just clean out your desk and go. She was given a generous severance package, but she would rather have kept the job.

True enough. In the show, Jan sues the company for wrongful termination, which you can do in any state, “at-will” or not.

Any chance you can try to keep spoilers OUT of the subject line, for those who haven’t seen the episode, yet?


This happened two seasons ago. You waiting for the show to end to get the complete box set? :stuck_out_tongue:

In other news, The Beaver teases Wally about his haircut.

Next you’l be telling me that Mr. Dithers’ telling Dagwood Bumstead “You’re fired!” about once a week, sometimes accompanied by screaming or physical abuse, isn’t realistic. :eek:

And since we only saw Jan on the job when she was dealing with Michael we don’t know what else she was doing the other 39.5 hours per week. She could’ve been napping, though she seems like she never sleeps.

Wasn’t there some mention of her dissapearing for hours (or days) to go “visit her sister” or something - presumably to go visit Michael?

It could also be that her finding out sped up the timeline.
I had assumed that they were planning on bringing someone in and having that person shadow then work with Jan for a while, while slowly laying the pieces in place to push Jan out.

Of course, Jan finding out that she was being replaced before her replacement had been interviewed changed things a bit.

Jan was fairly high up in the company, wasn’t she? VP of something or other? It’s more common to get let go with no previous warnings the higher you get in an organization.

What seemed unrealistic was that they would go through a charade of interviewing people for a fictional position. It would have been realistic if they had canned her first.

This is SO true. How anyone who has had numerous coaching-and-counseling sessions, a verbal warning (which of course is written:rolleyes: ) and two written warnings be completely shocked when they’re terminated?:confused: And yet it happens.

The episode in question was the Season Three finale, not to mention Jan’s firing was mentioned several times throughout the entirity of Season Four. I think it’s safe to say this particular little plot twist is past its spoil-by date.

It wasn’t for a fictional position, it was for Jan’s position. I think Wallace kept specifics under his hat because he was interviewing people in-house, including Jan’s subordinates (in particular, Jan’s boyfriend), and didn’t want to tell them before telling her. He also wouldn’t fire her first without having someone else in place ready to go.

To the O.P.: I’m not so sure David Wallice is as ethical and conscientious as all that, BTW. I think he’s got a conscience, which seems to put him above most of D-M’s upper management, but there’s quite a bit of slickness to him as well. Why did he interview Michael at all when he had no intention of hiring him, and then ask Karen in her interview what she thinks of Michael? Why did he hire a completely underqualified pisher like Ryan? Worst of all, apparently he didn’t have a problem with Ryan’s sleazy scheme of making the sales staff input their sales as coming from the website, losing their commissions. (We know he knew about this ongoing practice, since Ryan calls Jim on having complained to Wallace previously.)

He does have the grace to be kind to Michael, and to show that he’s not comfortable with his comments about Michael’s promotion chances (i.e. nil) having been revealed at the deposition. Which puts him up on Michael’s girlfriend.

Andy Buckley is wonderful in the role; I thoroughly believe him in it. He gives the same type of performance as Sidney Pollock playing Michael Dorsey’s agent in Tootsie – lowkey, down-to-earth, realistic. I like Wallace despite his flaws … similar to so many others in The Office. The writers and actors excel in creating highly flawed but somehow sympathetic characters.

Gathering evidence against Ryan? Did we ever find out if the sales staff got their commissions straightened out after Ryan got the boot?