Office pools for March Madness can be murky

ATLANTA - Before you start or join an NCAA tournament bracket at work, you should consider the risks.

Employers have to be careful, too, according to Atlanta attorney Corey Goerdt, an associate with Fisher & Phillips, LLP.

"Many employers either allow or encourage some type of office pools around big sporting events and have little or no trouble," Goerdt told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie. "However, employers should be aware of the risks, even if they are not particularly likely to impact most workplaces." 

"Gambling is illegal, and many employers have explicit policies banning gambling," Goerdt added. "As long as the stakes are not too high, law enforcement is unlikely to target companies with office pools. But employers with anti-gambling policies need to be aware that looking the other way or actively encouraging office pools could make it much more difficult to successfully discipline employees for gambling in other circumstances."

In some cases, Goerdt warns that office pools even lead to claims of discrimination.

"Hurt feelings over being left out of an office pool or teasing about performance in the pool could end up being evidence of discrimination," he explained. "If an employer is encouraging participation in a pool, they should make sure to be inclusive."

Goerdt said there can be a big upside to office pools.

"Pools can promote teamwork and interaction among employees who otherwise might not have that opportunity," he said.



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