Business Ethics (The Office)

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"Business Ethics"
The Office episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 3
Directed by Jeffrey Blitz
Written by Ryan Koh
Production code 503
Original air date October 9, 2008
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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The Office (U.S. season 5)
List of The Office (U.S. TV series) episodes

"Business Ethics" is the third episode of the fifth season of the television series The Office, and the show's seventy-fifth episode overall. The episode aired in the United States on October 9, 2008 on NBC.

In this episode, new HR rep Holly tries to conduct a business ethics seminar, which does not go smoothly when it is revealed that Meredith has been having sex with a supplier in order to gain discounts. Meanwhile, Jim tries to prove to Dwight that he (Dwight) does waste company time, which he claims he does not.


In the cold open, Pam (Jenna Fischer) is talking to Jim (John Krasinski) on the phone, and Jim reluctantly reveals their engagement to the office, to no congratulations, aside from a surprised reaction from Oscar, who had assumed they were already engaged, and much insulting commentary from everyone else. Michael (Steve Carell), however, is elated by the news and tackles Jim with a flying hug when he hears the news.

Following Ryan's (B. J. Novak) recent actions, corporate wants Holly (Amy Ryan) to set up a seminar regarding business ethics, where Michael invites the office to tell her about their personal time-theft stories without fear of consequence (by providing them with "immunity"). This seminar eventually escalates into a confessional orchestrated by Michael in which the staff admits to dishonesty in the workplace. However, when Meredith (Kate Flannery) mentions that she has sex to gain discounts for the company (and coupons to Outback Steakhouse), Holly feels that she should take action.[1]

At the seminar, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) claimed that he never takes personal time during work, so Jim uses a stopwatch to count even the smallest distractions that befall Dwight, such as yawning, sneezing and using the restroom. As a result, Dwight never stops working, restraining himself from interjecting when Jim spreads misinformation about Battlestar Galactica, urinating in a soda bottle under his desk to avoid leaving for the bathroom, and somehow managing to sneeze with his eyes open. Dwight finally stops caring about Jim's antagonism when he comes back into the office, having snuck away to have sex with Angela (Angela Kinsey). Dwight does admit that he is not as ethical as he claimed, and Jim appears happy to hear this and stops using the stopwatch.

Michael, upset by Holly's feelings, takes her to a restaurant to smooth things over, and inconspicuously tries to ignite a relationship. After Holly states that Dunder Mifflin is not a family but a workplace, Michael becomes bitter towards her and treats her with the kind of contempt he previously reserved for Toby Flenderson. Later on a conference call, corporate turns a blind eye to Meredith's unethical behavior due to the discounts but scolds Holly for forgetting to collect the signatures of all the employees who attended the business ethics seminar. Michael immediately becomes sympathetic toward her, and stands up for Holly when the rest of the staff is reluctant to participate in the rest of the seminar by ordering them to finish it. This in turn, seems to improve their relationship once again.

Meredith provides Outback takeout to the entire office, so she is no longer the sole beneficiary of the "tip", as seen in the ending.


In the 18–49 demographic, Business Ethics earned a 4.6/11 ratings share. The episode was watched by 9.0 million viewers. This episode got a good review from Travis Ficket of IGN, but it claimed, "it was all too familiar."

"Business Ethics" was voted the twenty-first highest-rated episode out of 26 from the fifth season, according to an episode poll at the fansite OfficeTally; the episode was rated 7.34 out of 10.[2]


  1. ^ A possible continuity error ensues from Meredith's arrangement with the local Hammermill representative, which she claims has been going on for six years. Michael was depicted as securing Dunder-Mifflin the rights to sell Hammermill products at the business suppliers' convention in Philadelphia in Season 3.
  2. ^ Tan, Jennie (May 19, 2009). "The Office Fan Ratings, Season 5". OfficeTally. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 

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