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    March Madness: Is Your Office Betting Pool Illegal?

    March Madness:
    Is Your Office Betting Pool Illegal?

    By Lisa Lawrence, Esq.

    It’s that time of year again.  Unless your alma matter is one of the perennial favorites, employees seem to enthusiastically give away their hard earned dollars by pouring cash into an office March Madness pool, hoping that this year their Cinderella team will take it all the way.

    But is your employees’ March Madness office betting pool illegal?  You BET it is!  Does that mean the employees should refrain?  Probably, since it is a misdemeanor, after all.

    But if they start the pool, does that mean you as the employer should shut it down?  Not necessarily.  In the absence of employee complaints, there is no California employment law that would ban this often harmless and morale-boosting diversion.  So, assuming that you haven’t received any employee complaints, you’re not officially sponsoring the pool, and your staff is having fun with it, you won’t be violating California employment laws by looking the other way.

    California employment law is notoriously comprehensive, and California courts are infamously pro-plaintiff.  These two facts give many California employers pause when hosting social events like March Madness betting pools.  However, employers must strike a balance between creating an enjoyable work environment – which has been shown to increase productivity – and avoiding employee lawsuits.  The best way to achieve this balance is by obtaining the advice of a California employment lawyer to ensure your company is following best employment practices, through March Madness and beyond.

    Hunt Ortmann has a dedicated Employment Law Group, with expertise in both California and federal law.  We offer our clients advice on all aspects of the employer-employee relationship and defend employers from lawsuits in state and federal court.  Please let us know if you would like more information on our employment law services.  Until then, here’s hoping for another Cinderella story!