Four Fidelity Investments workers at the company's Westlake, Texas office were "fired for playing fantasy football," reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram here.

"We have clear policies that relate to gambling," a Fidelity spokesman told the paper. "Participation in any form of gambling through the use of Fidelity time or equipment or any other company resource is prohibited. In addition to being illegal in a lot of places, it can also be disruptive. We want our employees to be focused on our customers and clients."

Gambling, at a company that invests more than a trillion dollars in the stock markets! Imagine that.

"Fidelity officials investigated the matter after they intercepted e-mails exchanged in a different office league. After questioning the commissioner of that league, they discovered Pettigrew also ran an office league. Four league commissioners lost their jobs at Fidelity."

Separately, the job-placement agency Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. says it estimated last year that "employers lost $615 million per  week (in the 17-week NFL season) in lost productivity due to Fantasy Football, despite gains in workplace morale and camaraderie."

Citing data from the Fantasy Sports Association, agency head John Challenger said the typical Fantasy Football player is an office worker earning $38 an hour who spends an average of a little over an hour "researching and managing their teams at the office." But he recommended against mass firings: "An across-the-board ban... could backfire," by hurting morale. And he noted salespeople claim the game had "enabled them to make a valuable business contact." 

"It looks like giving someone capital punishment for a misdemeanor. But it is a financial business, and the ethics of this industry have been put on trial. A squeaky-clean image is something these institutions need to demonstrate," Challenger told me.