Wynn lawsuit focused on tip-sharing by slot machine attendant

Review Journal
Wynn lawsuit focused on tip-sharing by slot machine attendant
Wild Casino

A Clark County woman filed a lawsuit against Wynn Resorts Ltd. saying the company violated labor laws by pooling tips paid to slot machine attendants and sharing the money with their supervisors.

Attorneys for Sheila Little allege that management at Wynn Las Vegas violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by forcing her and her peers to share a portion of their tips with slot leads and managers.

Little’s attorneys say the lawsuit is similar to a claim made by table games dealers against Wynn that was settled by the company in March 2021 by paying 1,000 dealers, including former dealers, $5.6 million.

Representatives of Wynn had no comment Monday on the most recent lawsuit.

Henderson attorneys Christian Gabroy and Kaine Messer of Gabroy Messer Law Firm hope to have the lawsuit certified as a class action representing other slot attendants similar to Little.

The suit, filed Thursday in District Court, seeks damages in excess of $15,000, compensatory damages equal to the full amount of tips unlawfully withheld from Little and all other similarly situated employees, and punitive damages.

The lawsuit said Wynn “applied a mandatory tip pooling and tip confiscation policy … which deprived tipped employees of lawfully earned tips in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

The settlement in 2021 came about after dealers at Wynn and Encore sought to reverse a policy — implemented by company co-founder and former Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn — in 2006 with lawsuits filed in 2013 and 2018. Steve Wynn initiated the tip-sharing policy because, with tips, the hourly-waged dealers were making more money than their supervisors. He simultaneously created the position of team leads to replace floor supervisors and pit bosses.

The property had opened the year before and was drawing huge crowds of gamblers who tipped generously. Wynn was concerned that if dealers greatly outearned supervisors it would disincentivize people to rise through the ranks.

A new policy instituted by Matt Maddox, who succeeded Steve Wynn as CEO in 2018, sought to end the turmoil two months into his tenure.

Maddox raised dealer pay by $2 an hour, equivalent to an annual increase of about $4,000. It was the dealers’ first raise in about a decade.

The new policy mandated that dealers share about 12 percent of their pooled tips with the “casino service team leads,” who dealers said were supervisors. Wynn was the only casino operator on the Strip to have the position of casino service team lead and the only one to allow other employees to share in the dealers’ tip pool.

The dealers’ two federal lawsuits against the company recouped as much as $50 million in lost tips. The case eventually reached the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which remanded it back to U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon.

“The court finds the proposed settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona fide dispute arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act for those collective action members, all of whom are current or former employees of (the) defendant, that elect to participate in such settlement,” Gordon said in an order signed in March 2021.

rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.