December 21st, 2009

Source: Fidelity Tried to ‘Make an Example Out of Us’

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Earlier today we passed along word that Fidelity seems to be trying to amend its public stance about why it recently fired four fantasy football league commissioners. believes that the switch in public language from focusing on the “gambling” connection to misuse of company time stands on footing about as firm as that of a hedge fund. It seems a lot more like reaction to the negative play that Fidelity has gotten since the story went public.

Over the weekend, was contacted by a member of the “Fidelity Four” (or should we call them “InFidels”?) other than Cameron Pettigrew. Our source asked that his name not be used, as the quartet prefers that Pettigrew remain the public face for now, but he provided credible information that further paints Fidelity’s actions as misdirected at the gambling angle.

“I just want to clear something up, a point that is being overlooked by the media,” our source said. “Fidelity Investments blocks access to any and all websites that have anything to do with fantasy sports and gambling — not to mention blocking sites like, and thousands of other non work-related websites.

“Fidelity does grant access to,,, etc, but if you then try to click on one of their fantasy links, you will get a giant message on your screen letting you know that access to the fantasy section of that website has been blocked.

“So now you know that we could not have been managing our teams or leagues on company time.”

Of course, the initial Fort Worth Star-Telegram report didn’t say that the company accused any of the four employees of managing teams or leagues at work. The only specific contested action singled out was Pettigrew’s receipt of two instant messages referring to NFL players (or, at least Trent Edwards).

Various companies have rules against spending company time and resources on personal matters, but it’s hard to believe that Fidelity axes any employee who interacts via IM on subjects not related to work. If such offenders do immediately get the boot, then OK. That would seem harsh, but allowable as long as it’s a consistent policy.

Far more likely, however — based on all the available evidence in this case — is that the higher-ups at this Texas branch of Fidelity incorrectly drew a link between fantasy sports and gambling and decided to make a big point to its workforce.

“Thanks to this site and others, we now know that fantasy sports do not even fit the definition of gambling,” our anonymous source said. “We got fired for talking about it at work, and they caught Cameron via Fidelity’s internal Instant Messenger service. In mine and Cameron’s case, we had perfect records, and never received a warning about this or anything else. Just fired, as the commissioner’s of our leagues, while everyone else who was participating got to keep their jobs.

“So really, they just tried to cut the head off the snake, scare people straight, and make an example out of us.”

The source said the four fired workers have not yet decided to take legal action. From here, though, the case looks pretty strong.


Fidelity’s Story Changes but Smells the Same

Monday, December 21st, 2009

It took a little while, but it was probably inevitable.

By now we’ve all read the initial comments from Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio, in which he clearly stated that the company dumped four employees for participating in “gambling” by organizing fantasy football leagues. That was all we had to go on for a few days, but Fidelity apparently decided it needed to play some CYA further clarify its action after the story got legs nationally.

Here’s what Fanhouse’s Tom Herrera got :

When FanHouse initially contacted Fidelity for a comment on Pettigrew’s dismissal, spokesman Vin Loporchio said that the company doesn’t comment on either current or former employees “out of respect for their privacy and confidentiality.”

After being asked in a follow-up for specific details on their policy, Loporchio offered the following in an e-mail sent Friday: “We aren’t making any judgments on fantasy leagues. If it is permitted legally, people can do this on their own time. Our company policies relate to the professional conduct of our employees. We do not want our company’s equipment and resources to be used for these purposes.” Loporchio added that the activities can be disruptive to the company’s business and Fidelity wants their employees to be focused on customers and clients.

Loporchio, of course, had the chance to blame the firings on improper use of company time and resources at the outset and didn’t. It took about a week and a flood of negative headlines for him to provide an explanation free of the word “gambling.”

Unfortunately for Fidelity, those public words can’t change the facts of the termination.

According to Fanhouse, Cameron Pettigrew (the public face of the Fidelity Four, to date) had “VIOLATION OF COMPANY GAMBLING POLICY INVOLVING FANTASY FOOTBALL” entered on his official termination form .

As we’ve noted before, that could (and probably should) clash directly with the federal government’s classification of fantasy sports as not gambling. has spoken directly with another member of the Fidelity Four and found out that the group has not yet decided whether to pursue legal action, but we’ll see how events play out if any or all do travel that route. Our source provided other information that makes it even harder to believe Fidelity’s changing story, material that we’ll address later today.