Office sports pools can be fun and bring smiles to your company’s team members.

However, such pools don’t always boost office morale. They can also lead you into legal snake pits.

This means you must be alert to the dangers. And there are possible dangers. “What?!” you ask.

Not to be a wet blanket, there are often legal downsides to allowing office sports pools.

Here are five snake pits to avoid:

1. Your state’s laws

Office pools might be risky in your state. Be sure to check what’s allowable and what isn’t.

Pools need to be suitably administered. Make it clear that pools must be equitable – equal odds for all participants.

Proceeds must be paid. To avoid legal liability, your supervisors should not participate in the pools involving direct reports. Supervisors should be disallowed from coordinating the pools.

2. Discrimination

If you have unpopular workers, an office clique or worse – an undesirable culture or gender or racial bias – some employees will be left out. They won’t be invited to participate.

Perhaps some employees feel social pressure but they can’t afford to participate this would be another red flag.

You’ll be lucky if some of your employees react with only disappointment. But if you’re accused of discrimination, it’s “Katy bar the door.”

3. Social-media risks

For instance, check the hashtags on Twitter about the Super Bowl or March Madness. You’ll see lots activity, which might include your employees.

It was bound to happen: Employees often make offensive comments about their companies and supervisors.

Now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now scrutinizing companies’ social media policies. Guess what? Employees usually win in the Obama Administration or under any Democrat.

Don’t believe me? Ask Costco or Boeing management about their experiences with the NLRB on social-media policies.

4. Obsessive-betting fans

Some betting can spark friction among workers, who are diehard fanatics about their favorite teams. For some people whose teams lose, it can ruin their morale for a week.

Tensions can also occur when employees lose big in a pool.

5. Solicitation opening the door

If you’re a non-union company, beware of another risk. If you let workers solicit participants for a pool, you must let them conduct other solicitations.

What does this mean? You’re making it a lot easier for your workers to solicit for a union. Your solicitation policies must be consistent – uniform across the board. Otherwise, you face the prospect of dealing with the NLRB.

In conclusion, while office sports pools can bring a lot of smiles, they can also bring frowns or worse – legal problems from discrimination lawsuits — very risky indeed.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s related legal information:

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. It’s true that certain people are identified and groomed for promotion.

10 Tips for Hiring the Right Attorney for Your Business — In running a successful business, you typically need the services of three professionals — a good tax accountant or CPA, insurance agent and an attorney. Know that talent and skill levels are crucial for your success.

First Step in Fighting Lawsuit Abuse – Risk Management — Published reports on two southern California media Web sites illustrate the polarizing effects of laws affecting business. They’re applicable now even though they were published in November 2011. The first article in Signon San Diego, “Businesses fight ‘abusive’ lawsuits“, explains the fears and concerns of many small businesses.

HR Tips to Avoid Legal Hassles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — This includes strategies on how to respond to an ICE audit. Employers have been having problems with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“People do not win people fights. Lawyers do.”

-Norman Ralph Augustine


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.