Playing at Work: Fantasy football at the office

Less than two weeks prior to the start of the 2014 NFL regular season, football fans from across the United States are hard at work drafting their fantasy football teams. Knowing that such work is often done at work — on company time or using company-provided facilities and equipment — Paula Burkes with The Oklahoman tackled the popular topic by finding out whether Oklahoma employers viewed employee participation in fantasy football leagues as a good way to build camaraderie in the workplace, or whether it zapped productivity. Results were mixed.

McAfee & Taft employment attorney Paul Ross weighed in on the topic from a legal perspective, saying employers have quite a bit of discretion when it comes to limiting employee access to the Internet.

“Fantasy football, social media sites, online shopping – any of these may create a distraction for employees. And the law permits employers to block access to these types of sites before productivity issues arise,” he said. “Conversely, employers can choose to deal with individual abusers on a case-by-case basis, but that option creates more risk because it opens the door to claims of unequal treatment.”