Workers union file lawsuit against Las Vegas casinos over inadequate working conditions

By Hayley Grammer

The Culinary Workers Union on Monday filed a lawsuit against several Las Vegas Strip casinos, accusing them of not offering safe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Labour-Management Relations Act regarding hazardous working conditions, the organisation alleges that current rules and procedures to respond to workers contracting COVID-19 have been wholly and dangerously inadequate.

The lawsuit, filed in the Las Vegas District Court, implicates the owners of The Signature at MGM Grand, Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio and Guy Fieri Las Vegas at Harrah’s in what is one of the first efforts to hold employers legally responsible for COVID-19 infections in the US.

In particular, the lawsuit accuses the casino operators of failing to immediately shut down food-and-beverage outlets, properly disinfect workplace areas or warn co-workers after learning of positive cases.

“[This] is just the beginning of [our] legal efforts to make sure workers are fully protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union. “The Union will continue to collect evidence regarding unsafe working conditions throughout the [city], and we will support the courageous workers who have come forward to share their experiences.”

The union also called for company-funded testing, both before workers returned to the casinos and during regular intervals while the COVID-19 emergency is in effect. Additionally, union workers have requested that all companies provide adequate PPE for each employee and that every casino post their safety plan online.

In a statement, MGM Resorts said the company has spent months working with health experts to create a comprehensive health and safety plan. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of everyone inside of our properties,” it read. “The nation is in the midst of a public health crisis and we are relying on all of our employees to follow CDC guidance both at work and at home.”

The lawsuit comes when the known number of Nevadans testing positive for the virus reached 17,894 on Monday, according to figures from the Nevada Health Alliance.

The Culinary Workers Union currently represents 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno.


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