Gotta catch 'em all... at work?

Sula isn't sure how she feels about Charmander

Sula isn't sure how she feels about Charmander

Pokémon Go is a hot topic at our workplace lately. Three of us have been swept up in the craze, while the other two (hint, it’s a generational thing) find the whole thing bizarre and somewhat distasteful. Sula, our office dog, has not yet declared her position on the issue.

Perhaps Pokémon Go is a hot topic at your workplace these days too. Here are some FAQs* about Pokémon Go in the workplace.

Can I get in trouble for playing Pokémon Go during working hours?

We tried and tried to think of a workplace where playing Pokémon Go during working hours would not be grounds for discipline and the only one we could come up with was in a Pokémon Go testing facility.

You can get in trouble for playing Pokémon Go during working hours. You can get in trouble for spending a more than minimal amount of time doing anything other than the thing you’re paid to do during working hours. As we know from personal experience, it is easy to get sucked in to the exciting world of Pokémon, and every time we start playing we play for more than a minimal amount of time.

Can my boss ban Pokémon Go from the workplace altogether – even during breaks in the breakroom?

In a unionized workplace, employer policies must meet a test of reasonableness. The test is fact specific, so we can’t say for sure whether your workplace is one where it would be reasonable to ban Pokémon Go altogether, even during breaks in the breakroom. It would depend on factors like safety concerns, or disruption to the workplace (are you squealing with delight so loudly that everyone in the workplace can hear every time you catch a Zubat?).

In a non-unionized workplace, the employer can make any policy they want so long as it doesn’t violate other laws like the Human Rights Code. We can’t think of any law that would be broken by banning Pokémon Go in the workplace altogether, sadly.

Does my employer have a duty to accommodate my Pokémon Go addiction?

While the case law on accommodating addiction in the workplace has expanded and evolved in recent years, there are no cases yet on video game addiction (that we’ve been able to find – if you know one, please tell us in the comments!). With the prevalence of smart phones and the incredible (though totally justified) popularity of Pokémon Go, perhaps we will start seeing some cases tackling this question.

Can I be disciplined for talking about Pokémon Go too much?

Some of the lawyers here would really like to be able to impose consequences on those of us who just won’t stop talking about Pokémon Go. Is that something an employer can do?

You can’t be disciplined for doing something that’s not against the rules, so first there would have to be a rule.

In a unionized workplace, the employer would have to establish some reasonable basis for prohibiting Poké-talk. If it reaches such a frenzied level that no one is getting work done, a rule of that kind could be justified. But if it’s just a manager’s pet peeve, a rule banning Pokémon -related conversation probably would not be justified.

So, if you’ve really gotta catch ‘em all (we know we do), catch ‘em somewhere other than the workplace.

*By “frequently asked” we mean “we made these up because we love talking about Pokémon and about workplace law”.

Susanna Allevato Quail practices labour, employment, human rights, and regulatory law with Allevato Quail & Worth. She is only a level 5 trainer but she has endured a lot of scorn from loved ones to get there.

The content of this post is meant as general information and not legal advice. Should you require advice about your particular situation, legal or Pokémon-related, please contact us