Calling itself a "exemplary employer and an upstanding corporate citizen," hotel and casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. on Friday denied allegations in a lawsuit that three elite executive security officers were not promoted because they are black.
The allegation was leveled Oct. 11 in one of the two lawsuits filed in June by nine executive security officers for Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his family, and a personal driver for Adelson. The main issue in those cases — initially the only issue — was overtime pay.
Of the nine executive protection officers, three claimed in a proposed amended lawsuit that they weren’t considered for higher-paying positions protecting Adelson personally because they are black.
They charged that during its 14 years of existence, "the Las Vegas Sands Executive Protection Team (EPT) has never hired or promoted an African American executive protection agent to the post of EPT 'supervisor' to personally guard Adelson."
In disputing the allegations Friday, Las Vegas Sands attorneys suggested the racial charges were added to the overtime lawsuit as a bargaining chip for settlement talks.
The Sands attorneys wrote in a court brief that the agents alleging discrimination had never complained to management about discrimination, didn’t file complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and instead tried to add them to their lawsuit on the eve of a settlement conference on the overtime claims.
The agents also failed to allege they actually applied for the positions in question, Sands said in its reply.
Las Vegas Sands’ filing said the agents’ complaint "is devoid of any factual allegations regarding when `supervisory positions’ were available to be filled, who was actually selected for the positions in question and why the individuals selected were supposedly `less qualified’ than the plaintiffs."
As to claims by the agents that the EPT’s Executive Management Team has been "comprised exclusively of former Israeli citizens who are white males," that no blacks have worked as supervisors on the EPT and that the Las Vegas Sands board of directors includes no black members, Sands attorneys wrote: "It is pure folly to isolate a small pool of individuals and conclude that the absence of any particular individuals from that pool is race based."
The company’s attorneys in their filing included a list of awards the company had won for community and diversity initiatives, including recognition from the NAACP, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Urban Chamber of Commerce, Sisters Network and the Frederick Douglass Educational Fund.
"Being an exemplary employer and an upstanding corporate citizen is an integral part of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s business model. Las Vegas Sands is an active community partner that offers assistance to charitable causes and organizations in order to improve the quality of life for members of the community," Sands’ filing said. "The Las Vegas Sands charitable arm — the Sands Foundation — supports causes that empower minority communities, and specifically, the African American community."