Fidelity Fires Employees Over Fantasy Football League

For many fantasy football owners this time of year is special not only because of the holidays, but because it’s fantasy football playoff season.  (Unfortunately for me and my co-owner, the season was lost on draft night).  Apparently Fidelity does not share the same appreciation for fantasy football – the company recently fired 4 employees who were involved in various fantasy football leagues.  Fidelity equated fantasy football to a form of gambling, which is prohibited by company policy.

Dan Schwartz of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog has the story and employment law analysis:

Fantasy football owners may complain about the decision or deem it to be overly harsh, but employers typically have a great deal of flexibility in setting rules of behavior in the workplace.

Where the company may have missed the boat is its designation of fantasy football as “gambling” in its purest form.  It’s not really betting or wagering — its mainly just a game. While the “owners” who were fired put up $20 each, it was part of a social relationship as well, which is typically another exception to the no gambling rule.

Click here to read the entire article.  Dan lists a number of “takeaways” for employers, but I think that this suggestion is particularly worthy of consideration:

Consider “blessing” such activities in a non-monetary fashion. Some employers have small office gatherings around some sports event to build morale and teamwork. 

On the surface this  case appears to be the classic scenario of legality vs. practicality.  Can Fidelity justifiably and legally take this action?  Of course.  Is it good policy or a realistic portrayal of fantasy sports as gambling?  Probably not.

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