Friends!!! Don’t Get Sued Over March Madness!

March 26, 2013

March Madness is among us and you may have more on the line than a $15 online pool.

Companies will lose $134 million in wages during March Madness, thanks to 3 million employees watching basketball while on the job, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. Lost productivity isn’t the only thing at risk.

Aside from the fact that office gambling is illegal, March Madness also creates opportunities for harassment or discrimination suits, according to Lori Adelson, a labor and employment attorney with the law firm Arnstein & Lehr. WOW! 

According to Adelson, lunchtime trips to sports bars or after-work events centered on the games can lead to behavior that could result in a harassment suit. And the discomfort that employees might feel about the entry fee for an office bracket could end up costing you a lot of time and money with a discrimination suit.

“Here’s where the problem begins: You have an employee that says, ‘I don’t have $5 to get into the pool,’ and it leads to them feeling discriminated against,” says Adelson. “You cannot encourage pools where money is required without running into a lot of risks.”

When it comes to protecting your business, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Adelson recommends that employers re-affirm the company’s policies on streaming games or any forms of entertainment while on the job, as well as remind staffers what is and is not considered appropriate behavior at off-site locations.

To keep everyone on task, set up TVs in break-rooms, so people can watch the games without getting distracted from their work. By allowing March Madness to seep into the office in an appropriate way, Adelson says you avoid situations where staffers take off work to watch their favorite team. 


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