[Poll] March May Be Over, But NCAA Office Pool Madness Continues…

First, who’s going to win?

Now, can employers get into legal trouble for March Madness betting pools organized by their employees? Absolutely, write Joanna Rich and Salvador Simao of law firm FordHarrison:

“March Madness, Super Bowl, and Fantasy Football pools have become ingrained in the American workplace and seem harmless to many; however, permitting such activities creates a wide range of risks for employers, from productivity loss to discrimination and disability issues and even criminal penalties.”

So what to do as we count down to the final NCAA basketball championship game? Three recommendations:

1. Establish a policy, and make it known:

“If employers decide to take a chance on employee betting, they should institute clear policies. The policy should:

  • state that gambling is illegal;
  • describe acceptable and prohibited behaviors;
  • state that employees can be disciplined for violating the policy; and
  • identify all work areas where betting is prohibited, including offices, cafeterias, and parking lots.” (FordHarrison)

2. Don’t let management organize the betting pool:

“… a company should probably not sponsor the pool directly. If a few employees want to organize, so much the better. But if that happens, someone should inform those individuals that any money collected should be distributed and they are not allowed to keep a cut of the money.” (Pullman & Comley)

3. Don’t ignore dissent:

“Disparate treatment (read: ‘discrimination’) can pop up in the darndest places. Take, for example, the supervisor who (unofficially) leads an office NCAA tournament pool. If that supervisor happens to have an employee who objects to gambling on religious grounds, it might be very easy for that employee to blame any adverse employment action (i.e., ‘discipline’) on the fact that he or she may have voiced that objection.” (Ogletree Deakins)

The updates:

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