Slot Attendant Sues Wynn Resorts Over Tip Pooling Policy
Wynn Las Vegas slot attendant Sheila Little is suing her employer over its tipping policy.
Little wants to form a federal class action lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She claims that the casino company’s policy of sharing tips among team members and supervisors violates federal labor laws.
Tip pooling is when employees combine their tips, and only these employees who provide customer-facing service receive a portion of the tip pool. Tip sharing is when tipped employees give a percentage of their tips to back of the house staff who do not get tips, including supervisors.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court last week. It alleges that “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 filings also pointed out that Wynn has been in similar legal trouble before. In 2012, it settled for $5.6 million in damages to 1000 Wynn Resorts table dealers after nearly 15 years of court hearings on a similar tip pooling issue.
Little is currently asking for damages for herself, plus deprived tip money for other slots attendants who join the class action suit. It should be “equal to the full sum of tips unlawfully withheld from Little and all other similarly situated employees, and punitive damages,” the court filings said.
Extensive Legal Battles
Wynn Resorts may have hoped that the 2021 settlement would have put the long-standing tipping argument behind them, which goes back as far as 2006.
Just one year after Wynn Las Vegas had opened, its then-CEO Steve Wynn noticed that, thanks to big tipping players, casino table game dealers were often pulling in more for a shift that the casino’s managers.
Wynn thought this state of affairs would not encourage employees to seek promotions.
So he rearranged the casino floor to create a new role, “casino service team leads.” He then argued that since these were nominally different from supervisors, they were allowed to take a cut of the tips without violating labor laws.
The table dealers at Wynn Las Vegas disagreed. What followed was 15 years of courtroom action that made it as far as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
However, when Steve Wynn departed in 2018 after a string of sexual misconduct allegations was revealed, the new Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox took a more conciliatory approach.
Fair and Reasonable Solution
Maddox took the action that many said Steve Wynn should have taken all along. He let the dealers take all the tips, cut their pay slightly to compensate, and upped the supervisors pay to encourage upward mobility.
Wynn Resorts then settled for $5.6 million in damages in March 2021, with a decision in the courts finally pending.
“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,” Nevada District Judge Andrew Gordon ruled shortly before the settlement was announced.
That was a lot less than the $50 million the table game dealers wanted. With years of legal fees taken off, their damages worked out to less than $4,000 each when split between 1000 of them.
Sheila Little, and any Wynn slot attendants that join her class action lawsuit, will be hoping for a better outcome this time.