Marketplace Scratch Pad

Getting sacked

Scott Jagow Dec 16, 2009

Imagine losing your job right before Christmas. Or put another way, just before the end of the season. Not the holiday season, the football season. Four Fidelity employees in Texas were just canned for… playing fantasy football.

Here’s how it went down for Cameron Pettigrew and three of his colleagues, according to the Star-Telegram:

(Fidelity) investigators found two instant messages that had fantasy-football-related material.

“One of my buddies sent me something about how bad (Buffalo Bills QB) Trent Edwards was playing or something like that,” Pettigrew said. “So (my bosses) called me in and talked to me for about 90 minutes on everything I ever knew about fantasy football. They interrogated me as though I was some sort of international gambling kingpin. Then they released me for the day, and I was like, ‘OK.’ I never thought they’d fire me for this, but, the next day, I get the call saying I had been terminated.”

Fidelity prohibits gambling (outside of gambling with clients’ money in the stock market). The policy includes things like March Madness pools or paying a $20 entry fee to join a fantasy football league, as Pettigrew did:

Said Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio: “We have clear policies that relate to gambling. Participation in any form of gambling through the use of Fidelity time or equipment or any other company resource is prohibited. In addition to being illegal in a lot of places, it can also be disruptive. We want our employees to be focused on our customers and clients.”

Pettigrew, who was the commissioner of his league, knew Fidelity had a policy against playing fantasy football at the office. But he said the policy was poorly communicated and ignored by leadership. Pettigrew said there were at least 10 fantasy leagues in which leaders and managers played.

While he clearly broke the rule, and it’s an especially bad time to be doing that, one wonders if it was the “gambling,” the potential distraction from work or something else, like an excuse to cut costs. I’m betting (pun intended) that other Fidelity employees are wasting plenty of the company’s time. They’re just doing it “piously.”

It probably didn’t help that Pettigrew made another bad judgment call.

He drafted Trent Edwards.

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