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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.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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