Fidelity Investments recently fired four employees for playing in a $20 fantasy football league, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .
Cameron Pettigrew, who worked as a “relationship manager in a private client group,” was among those terminated.
“Firing a guy for being in a $20 fantasy league? Let’s be honest, that’s a complete overreaction,” said Pettigrew, who has an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington. “In this economic time, especially. To fire people over something like this, it’s just cold.”
Fidelity claims the firings were justified because the employees violated the company’s anti-gambling policy.
“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,” said Fidelity spokesperson Vin Loporchio.
Pettigrew said he never sent any fantasy football-related e-mails using his work e-mail address, but investigators found two instant messages that pertained to fantasy football.
“One of my buddies sent me something about how bad Trent Edwards was playing or something like that,” Pettigrew told the Star-Telegram. “So they 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.”
Pettigrew added that he never had a warning in his 2 1/2 years at the company and will miss out on thousands of dollars because his 401(k) retirement plan was not vested.
There is debate over whether fantasy sports are a form of gambling. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 declared that it is not gambling, and laws that have been passed, which define the terms “bet” and “wager,” don’t include fantasy sports participation.