In an office lottery pool? There are ways to protect your group

Take these steps to avoid a workplace legal lottery mess.

In an office lottery pool? There are ways to protect your group
There are some ways to protect yourself and your group if you're in an office lottery pool

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $1 billion and the Powerball jackpot has soared to $470 million, which means scores of office workers have pooled their money in the hopes they hit it big.

Friday’s winning numbers: 65 53 23 15 70 07

Sometimes, however, big money means big problems starting with who is cashing in, “Everyone is your friend until you’re looking at a billion dollars, and all of a sudden, that kind of stuff goes out the window because people get motivated by greed,” says Jon Hyman, an employment attorney with the Cleveland firm of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg and Lewis.

Hyman says a contract signed by all participants of the office pool is the only way to really protect everyone’s interests. He also laughed when he says in 20 years of employment practice he’s never seen such a contract.

There are ways however, to provide some level of protection and it starts with making sure that all money is collected before the tickets are bought, which means no fronting money for anyone who says they want in but haven’t paid.

He also advises that everyone sign a sheet as they pay and that everyone is given a hard copy or e-mailed copy of the group numbers.

“In the unlikely event you win you would limit the risk of a dispute of someone who says i should have been in but I wasn’t and where’s my money.”

There have been multiple lawsuits filed by people who missed out on a big lottery win including a case in Youngstown in 2012 where a man claimed he had been a long time participant in the office lottery pool and deserved a share even though because he was out on medical leave and did not contribute the week the group won. That case was settled out of court.

“Unfortunately that’s part of the risk that goes along with these things,” Hyman said.

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