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March Madness can be boss' worst nightmare

PHOENIX -- Americans love March Madness and the office competition with co-workers filling out brackets.

But a Valley attorney said employers are becoming more impatient with workers who aren't keeping their eyes on the job.

Jon Pettibone with Quarles and Brady in Phoenix said employers are losing money each year while workers stay connected with the NCAA basketball tournament on office computers, smartphones and other means.

Some employees even tap into online gambling sites on the job. Pettibone said employers have the right to expect employees to devote 100 percent of their energies to the job and they can fire people who put the tourney ahead of working.

"That's why employees have to be careful in looking out for their job and protecting themselves," he said.

And while good-natured ribbing of co-workers' failing brackets is expected, Pettibone said participants should be careful with too much trash talk.

"Some employers prohibit harassment for any reason," he said.

Pettibone said billions of dollars will be spent in the next few weeks in office pools across the country but there's no way to quantify how much it will cost employers in lost worker productivity.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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