If you are a sports fan, professional or collegiate, you know what time of the year it is - the NFL started on September 8, 2016 with Carolina vs. Denver; in a few weeks, Major League Baseball will start its Playoff Season with a trip to the World Series; College Football is in full force and the National Hockey League will begin shortly. What does this mean to an Employer? An Employer with a "blind eye to sports" risks running into a lot of potential problems and issues with its Employee complement.
Principally, there are two interrelated multi-billion dollar industries that may be impacting your workplace - the NFL and Fantasy Sports. As well, although the NFL is constantly denying it, gambling on professional football games is at an all-time high and when those three (NFL/Fantasy Sports and internet gambling) coincide, all Employers are potentially at risk. If you, as the Employer, believe that no one in your workforce will be interested in any of the above three, you are in for a rude awakening.
In point of fact, gambling, the NFL and Fantasy Sports pools transcend every industry and workplace. Employers must recognize this issue and treat it as any other that could have effects on productivity, morale or attendance.
As an Employer, do you have a strategy or policy in place that:
- Addresses gambling in the workplace using Employer owned equipment or, for that matter, the Employee's own devices? Is it possible that a gambling issue could be a future disability?
- Addresses the issue of solicitation by Employees to participate in Fantasy Sports pools? Does the lack of such policy appropriately jive with your other Non-Solicitation Policies? What happens if someone is a sore loser in a pool and doesn't wish to "pay up" or the winner of the pool "can't collect"? Will this have a "potential impact" on Employee morale or productivity?
- A policy addressing whether it is inappropriate to use Company devices to make the picks/put players in the lineup for Fantasy Sports or place a bet?
If there is any Employer out there who is now saying "none of my Employees would use Company time to participate in sports pools or do any betting", I think it is time for you to reconsider your view. A vast number of your Employees are sports fans and will find this to be an exciting time of the year. If you, as the Employer, do not address these types of issues before the fact, it will end up costing you in either productivity or morale at a later point in time!
Questions? Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at [email protected]