Legal Question in Employment Law in New Jersey

Terminated for Office Football Pool

I was terminated yesterday on the basis of starting an office football pool. The reason they cited was that the pool is illegal and thus had no choice but to terminate me.

Interestingly, I had organized this office pool for four years, with repeated participation from many of my coworkers, and even senior management within the organization. Even my direct manager at the time was aware of the office pool and participated as well.

It was never communicated to me that this was illegal or against any type of company policy until yesterday when they terminated me.

The grounds for dismissal was that the activity is illegal and they had no choice but to let me go; however, none of the other participants were disciplined in any manner. If their basis was the il-legality of gambling, aren't the other participants just as guilty by betting? Is this discrimination? I feel singled out.

Additionally, other known illegal activites occur at the firm including piracy of copyrighted material.

Many others, although not illegal, are in clear violation of the employee handbook policies but have not been reprimanded in any way. I am wondering if this is considered discrimation? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Asked on 9/10/08, 10:00 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Corbett Corbett Law Firm LLC

Re: Terminated for Office Football Pool

Your employer is under no obligation to be fair or evenhanded except where disparate treatment constitutes discrimination in one of the protected areas (race, gender, etc.) An exception might exist when prior conduct or tolerance would modify the condition of employment. This, however, almost never applies to illegal activities.

It is not illegal in NJ to participate as a player in an illegal gaming operation even though the operation itself may be illegal.

You may report software piracy to the Business Software Alliance or directly to Microsoft if it affects their software. Many of their leads come from terminated employees and they are happy to have the information.

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Answered on 9/10/08, 11:15 pm

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