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Watch Out: March Madness Can Get You Fired

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By Andrew Lu on March 18, 2013 7:12 AM

Do you know the legal implications of March Madness? Especially when it comes to keeping your job and possibly getting fired?

March Madness begins this week, and pretty soon everyone in your office will be filling out brackets. While tournament time is a fun time, if you go too far in the workplace, you may be setting yourself up for termination. You may be violating the law as well.

Companies report that they lose millions of dollars in productivity each year as employees discuss, watch, and bet money on March Madness. And March Madness tends to be a bigger distraction than other sporting events like the Super Bowl as the basketball tournament stretches for several weeks, reports Fox Business.

To avoid getting fired, keep these March Madness-in-the-office tips in mind:

  1. Don't let it affect your productivity. If you're going to watch the games and participate in a pool, you should not let it affect your work productivity. Most employers are fine with discussing outside interests in the workplace. However, if your work suffers, that's when most employers have a problem.

  2. Don't organize betting pools. Sometimes it's better to be a follower than a leader. The person who organizes the pool draws unwanted attention. This is especially true if money is at stake. Take cues from management and see if they participate. If truly in doubt, ask a higher up if you can participate.

  3. Don't watch games over the Internet. You don't want to clog your company's bandwidth with afternoon games. Your company likely can tell what you are doing online, and it can be very difficult to explain away watching hours of basketball during work time.

  4. Review your work policy. Check your company policy on use of the Internet on work computers. And if you plan on bringing a tablet or other device to check scores, you should also check the rules.

  5. Keep your taunts in check. Don't turn your workplace into a frat house if your school happens to advance or beat a rival university. A little ribbing doesn't hurt, but don't go overboard.

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