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Can My Comapny Sue us For the Winnings?

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thatguy

So I am organizing a lotto group buy for about 40 people at a fortune 500 company for tomorrows $270M MM drawing. One of the members told me that by distributing the scanned lottery numbers via company email they can sue for part or all of the winnings. I Googled for other similar stories but found nothing, also something like this seems that it would villify the company when the press got wind of it and be bad for business. Is there any truth to this or is he just paranoid?

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Unreasonable

I am not a lawyer, but I do not think the company has any claim at all on your lottery pool winnings.

What they do have control over is use of company owned assets like email and scanning equipment.  They cannot stake a claim on the winnings, but they can fire you for misuse of company property.  The email system is company owned and you using it for personal use is not really acceptable.  There are probably many precedents that would further impede a case, especially if many people at your company use company email for personal use, like jokes or pictures.  they would have to fire everyone that ever did that, or they would need a track record of firing or disciplining people in the past for personal use of email.

I would not worry about getting fired because all the free publicity if you guys win ( which is impossible because I already have the winning numbers )  The company would be crazy to tarnish any free publicity like that. 

RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
RJOh
In response to thatguy

Why would you work on a personal project on company time and use company equipment to do it?  Don't you have a computer, scanner/printer and an internet connection at home?

justxploring's avatar - villiarna
justxploring
In response to RJOh

I agree with both of the above comments. 

Chances are they wouldn't have a case, as long as you didn't use company money to purchase the tickets!  However, if you are worried that it has the type of management that would frown upon such activity, why are you doing it? 

Edit:  Just saw your comment below.  Now your question doesn't make sense.  If upper management is involved, then why are you concerned?  I know a lot of people who use computers at work.  Probably half the people posting here check messages during lunch.  Still, it depends on company policy. 

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thatguy

Rj0h,

I don't have access to the company Outlook system from home and people want their numbers before COB Friday yet many wait until Fri morning to put the money in. It sounds like you might have been micro managed (or are a micro manager). We have great employee morale and in my 5 years here have never heard of people that have been reprimanded for email related incidents, even our tenured senior level managers/directors are a part of this pool.

justxploring's avatar - villiarna
justxploring

Re:  scanning tickets

Are you scanning tickets and emailing them to people out of state?   If so, is this legal?  Good question!  You can't use the mail to buy tickets for and accept money from people across state lines, but can you use email?  Then is the contract binding?  Many years ago I belonged to a company pool in Chicago and I lived in NH.  I never thought about it. 

ThatScaryChick's avatar - pI8lWzJ
ThatScaryChick

I don't think your company would have a leg to stand on if they did try to sue you. Unless you are using the companies money to buy the tickets they can't claim the tickets are theirs.

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thatguy

We are such a large company that our location makes up only about 5% of the total employees so you never really know what could come out of legal in HQ. I get the feeling we are OK because lost revenues coming from the bad press I would assume would be way more than $100M in a year anyway. Speaking of wasting company time... Im getting back to work, thanks for the replys everyone.

chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg
chasingadream
In response to thatguy

I don't think they can sue you for any of the money but speaking from personal experience I can tell you that using company email for any other purpose than company business is grounds for termination.

I worked for Ford Motor Credit and used the company email to chat back and forth with coworkers on other floors. Well one day we were gossiping about the call center manager and somehow HR got wind of it. All of a sudden I was sent home for 3day on paid leave. When I was called to come back in to discuss why I was sent home.....The HR manager had a stack of my emails that had been printed as reference/evidence that I was misusing company email and I was immediatly fired and handed a box with all my belongings from my desk and escorted off the property.

My Point: find a way of informing your lotto group without using company goods. If I'm not mistaken in the state of California (your profile reads that your in Cali) the lottery commission issues out a lottery group kit that might help you get the info to your group without risking employment.

tntea's avatar - Lottery-059.jpg
tntea

 I would use the home scanner and hand deliver the copies at break times or before/after work hours.

Actually that is what I do...

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gsc5

Hell yes they could sue you, it wouldn't make any difference whether they had a leg to stand on, or not.  Before it was over, you'd be happy to give them whatever share they wanted, just so you could get yours. 

I am sure you'd make, both sides, attorneys very rich.

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KY Floyd
In response to thatguy

gsc5 is right that they could sue you. They could also  sueyou  because your  tie clashes with your shirt, or becauseit's nicer than your boss' tie,  too. What matters is how likelythey would be to sue you, and how good  their case  would be.If all you did was use company email (and  presumably companypaper, and toner),and used paid time to do personal things, they mighthave a decent  chance to recover their actual losses, but thatsuit wouldn't be about  any prize you won. They couldpotentially  fire you, too. As others noted, the  priorhistory of the  company's  response to similar things thatmay violate company policy would be  very important.

Based on the post I've quoted I'd be more  worried aboutdisputes within the group.  IMHO, not making  payments untilFriday for  tickets that are bought for a Friday drawing  is a major problem that begs for people to miss thepayment or  make a claim that they were part of the group and wereunfairly denied  a share of any winnings.

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gsc5
In response to KY Floyd

KY Floyd, its not about the color of someone's tie or shirt.  Its about MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.  Its about employee's using company time and property to make money.  I have no doubt that a company would get a healthy cut of the winnings. 

If this is done during lunch hour or after work, off the clock.  I don't think it would be a problem'

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KY Floyd

How much money is involved only matters in so far as the incentiveto sue. It doesn't do anything at all to make for a strongercase.  If you and a coworker use company time to make plans to goout to dinner, do you think the company is entitled to some of yourdinner? Planning alottery pool is no different than anything elsecoworkers discuss on company time. The company could potentialy dockyou for time spent on personal matters, or even fire you if the offensewas serious enough, but they have no claim on lottery winnings justbecause the pool was planned on company time.

 FWIW, Almostevery pool that has  won a  jackpot has  been  madeup of coworkers, and you can be sure that since work is where theyspent time together they used company time to make plans. So far as I'maware, none of the companies the pools worked for has even suggested that they might deserve a cut.

crystaltips's avatar - Lottery-025.jpg
crystaltips

They could fire me all they want if I won a share of that jackpot! :)

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