Suit against Wynn tip-sharing policy dismissed
1 August 2011
Casino executive Steve Wynn has won another victory in his effort to maintain a controversial company policy of sharing workers’ tips with management.
A federal judge last month dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of nightclub workers protesting the policy. Wynn’s attorneys argued that disputes over tips should be settled in an arbitration procedure as required by the workers’ labor contract.
The ruling, which came to light today, follows a determination by Nevada’s labor commissioner last year that a similar casino policy requiring dealers to share tips with supervisors is legal.
Judge Kent Dawson dismissed the suit based on a move by the Bartenders Union Local 165 representing some of the nightclub workers to resolve the dispute through arbitration rather than the court system.
The union and casino management are expected to meet with an independent arbitrator in the coming weeks in an attempt to settle the dispute.
The judge also dismissed charges against nightclub operator Cy Waits, who was running the clubs for Wynn at the time of the lawsuit.
After the judge’s order dismissing the suit, attorneys for nightclub workers filed a motion stating that several issues remain unresolved — including the problem of workers who are not represented by the union that requested arbitration.
Workers who sued say the labor contract doesn’t allow for management to keep tips that belong to them. The grievance procedure in the labor contract is ambiguous and at worst, has little validity according to what management has told employees objecting to the tip policy, they say.
“On numerous occasions, authorized representatives of Wynn indicated to plaintiff (Kevin) Carter that managers will always receive gratuities, the grievance procedures are meaningless, they will never change the system and Wynn has a policy of not taking grievances to arbitration,” according to a July 18 filing in opposition to Wynn’s motion to dismiss the case.
There’s another wrinkle for workers named in the lawsuit. Many are no longer working at Wynn Las Vegas, which means they aren’t subject to the arbitration procedure. Also, the arbitration would only address supposed damages to workers from the time they filed a grievance with the union last year.
Workers sued in part to seek the return of money that has been given to nightclub management since the opening of Wynn Las Vegas in 2005.
Representatives for Wynn Las Vegas and nightclub workers could not immediately be reached for comment.
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